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Top 20 Lower Middle Market Investment Banks [Q3]


We are excited to release Axial’s Q3 2019 Lower Middle Market League Tables.

Axial league tables take into account three main characteristics: client quality, buy-side targeting, and process effectiveness (for detailed methodology, see the end of this feature).

For CEOs and dealmakers in the lower middle market, these league tables are a useful barometer to measure how an investment bank ranks against its peers, and how effective they are in financing and selling lower middle market businesses in various sectors.


11 of the 20 top investment banks were new to the list in Q3, with the remaining 9 firms returning from Q2. 

804 investment banks brought deals to market using Axial in Q3. 

Here are the top 20.


Top 20 Investment Banks


Rank Firm HQ Score
1 Baird Business Owner Solutions KY .99
2 Strategic Finance CO .98
3 Strategic M&A Advisors MS .97
4 FiSol CA .96
5 New Direction Partners PA .96
6 Sunfield Advisors NC .95
7 Osage Advisors CT .94
8 SF&P Advisors FL .94
9 SDR Ventures CO .93
10 Seaport Global NY .92
11 BRG Capital Advisors IL .92
12 Atlas Technology Group CA .92
13 FirePower Capital ON .92
14 Liberty Ridge Advisors WA .91
15 Windstream Partners AZ .91
16 Affinity Ventures NM .91
17 RLS Associates DE .91
18 Players Capital Group NC .91
19 FourBridges Capital Advisors TN .91
 20 Bundy Group NC .90


Honorable Mentions

Client Quality

Firm HQ
Peakstone Group IL
Cappello Global CA
Lenox Hill Capital Advisors NY
Boxwood Partners VA
Signet Capital Advisors OH


Buyer Targeting

Firm HQ
GreerWalker Corporate Finance NC
Sica Fletcher NY
Footprint Capital OH
eMerge M&A, Inc. NY
Merger Partners TX


Process Effectiveness

Firm HQ
The London Manhattan Company ME
Solganick & Co. CA
Carter Morse & Goodrich CT
The Astor Group NY
Chesapeake Corporate Advisors MD


Industry Specialists

Firm Industry Focus HQ
Vertess Healthcare AZ
TUSK Partners Dental Services NC
Mertz Taggart Home Healthcare + Behavioral Health GA
MartinWolf M&A Advisors IT Solutions & Supply Chain AZ
Brereton, Hanley & Co. ESOP CA


About the Top 20



“Hilliard Lyons Investment Banking employs a full-service model that brings “Wall Street” resources and experience to emerging growth and middle market companies. With offices in Louisville and Cincinnati, our bankers specialize in advising clients in M&A, capital raising, and business valuation across the country. Hilliard Lyons Investment Banking is a division of J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons, LLC, a full-service wealth management firm with over $50 billion in client assets, headquartered in Louisville, KY.” Visit Hilliard Lyons’ Profile


Industries: Manufacturing, Financial Services, Technology, Energy & Utilities, Business Services, Distribution, Industrials, Healthcare, Real Estate


“Strategic Finance is a team of senior investment bankers dedicated to guiding expansion stage and middle market companies in their growth and exit plans. We offer private placement of debt and equity, negotiate mergers and acquisitions and arrange strategic partnerships for clients in a wide range of industries. We also offer the attention and focus of a boutique firm, with experienced professionals handling every transaction.” Visit Strategic Finance’s Profile


Industries: Manufacturing, Business Services, Industrial Automation, Transportation, Enterprise Software, IT Services & Consulting, Cloud Hosting, Digital Media


“Strategic M&A Advisors, LLC (“SMAA”) specializes in exit strategies and confidential business divestitures. The members of SMAA have been assisting middle-market business owners during the final stages of the business life-cycle for over two decades in our capacities as lawyers, accountants, corporate risk managers, and business advisors.” Visit Strategic M&A Advisors’ Profile


Industries: Business Services, Consumer goods, Consumer Services, Distribution, Energy & Utilities, Industrials, Financial Services



“FiSol DVO is an independent advisory firm specializing in concierge financial services for professional practice owners — specifically dentists, veterinarians and optometrists. Working with a variety of lenders, private equity sponsors and mezzanine/debt firms, FiSol DVO provides professional advisory services that result in the most optimal loan and capital structures, while securing the best competitive pricing available in the market.”  Visit FiSol’s Profile


Industries: Healthcare; Focus: Dental, Veterinary, and Optometry practices



“New Direction Partners provides advisory services in investment banking, valuation, financial advisory and management consulting. Our partners have unparalleled experience, with involvement in over 200 sales and mergers since 1979. We specialize in providing services to the printing, packaging and allied graphic arts industries with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions.” Visit New Direction Partners’ Profile


Industries: Business Services, Printing, Packaging, Graphic Media



“Sunfield Advisors has a worldwide network of investors and investment groups seeking to invest in profitable and viable opportunities, often in a specific market or country for independent project deals. Our global Professionals who came from Diverse industry experiences proactively work to bring our clients the most valuable projects, providing holistic financial services and credit enhancement support to discerning clients.” Visit Sunfield Advisors’ Profile


Industries: Healthcare, Technology, Energy & Utilities, Business Services


“Founded in 2001, Osage Advisors is a boutique Investment Banking firm dedicated to helping business owners receive the maximum value from the sale of their companies. We use traditional investment banking techniques, typically not available to owners of closely-held businesses to create a competitive environment that delivers multiple options and the best prices for our clients.” Visit Osage Advisor’s Profile


Industries: Manufacturing & Industrial Services, Consumer Goods & Services, Distribution, Healthcare, Technology, Business Services, Distribution, Industrials, Health Care, Technology


“We have served as a trusted partner to businesses in the HVAC, Plumbing and Mechanical contractors, providing a range of services including valuation, accounting, research and financial analysis. Our goal is to serve not simply as a business brokerage, but as a success strategy firm, driving superior outcomes for our clients. We achieve this in particular by leveraging the strong relationships we have forged over in our niche industry focus.” Visit SF&P Advisor’s Profile


Industries: Plumbing, HVAC, Mechanical Services



“SDR Ventures is a Denver-based investment banking firm serving private business owners in the lower middle market, including companies with values up to $300 million. The SDR Ventures approach of THINKING LIKE OWNERS helps businesses maximize their value. Whether owners are looking to sell a business, buy a business or raise debt or equity, SDR is committed to helping them succeed.” Visit SDR Venture’s Profile


Industries: Consumer Products, Agriculture, Health & Wellness, Food & Beverage, Distribution, Manufacturing, Business Services, Healthcare, Technology



“Seaport Global is a full-service, independent investment bank that offers capital markets, financial advisory, sales, trading and research services. Headquartered in New York with offices across the US and in Europe, we pair extensive knowledge and relationships in energy, industrials, transportation and chemicals, with equity and fixed income sales, trading and research.” Visit Seaport Global’s Profile


Industries:Industrials, Manufacturing, Business Services, Consumer Goods, Consumer Services, Distribution, Energy & Utilities, Financial Services



“BRG Capital Advisors provides strategic advisory services that help our clients achieve long term success. We provide a full service M&A, balance sheet restructuring / recapitalization, growth equity, and debt placements. BRG Capital Advisors, LLC is the broker dealer affiliate of Berkeley Research Group ( Founded in 2010, BRG is a global consulting firm with more than 1,100 professionals in 43 offices around the world.” Visit BRG Capital Advisor’s Profile


Industries: Manufacturing & Industrial Services, Consumer Goods & Services, Distribution, Healthcare, Technology, Business Services, Distribution, Industrials, Health Care, Technology



“Atlas Technology Group is a technology-focused investment bank with particular expertise in providing sell-side M&A advisory services to global software companies. Our other services cover the full range of strategic transactions including buy-side M&A advisory, private placements, carve outs, and spin offs. We offer our combination of sector-based expertise and investment banking skills to companies globally from our offices in San Francisco.” Visit Atlas Technology Group’s Profile


Industries: Technology, Tech-enabled Services, Business Services, Media, Healthcare Technology


“FirePower Capital advises and invests in Canada’s entrepreneurs. We guide promising mid-market companies to complete mission-critical transactions such as acquiring a competitor or selling to a strategic buyer. Typical deal size is between $5m and $250m. We also lend between $1-20m in the form of venture debt, to fast-growing companies with >$2m of revenues. Venture debt is beneficial to them because it avoids the dilution hit of an equity round; or, if bank debt is unavailable or insufficient, venture debt plugs that gap.” Visit Firepower Capital’s Profile


Industries: Manufacturing, Consumer Goods, Industrials, Technology, Financial Services, Retail, Business Services, Distribution, Healthcare, Consumer Services, Media, Life Sciences, Telecommunications



“Liberty Ridge is the most difficult and treacherous trek on the Pacific Northwest’s iconic Mt. Rainier. As founders, with deep roots in the Pacific Northwest, we consider Liberty Ridge the perfect metaphor to represent the challenging yet rewarding endeavors that a merger or acquisition can be for business owners.” Visit Liberty Ridge’s Profile


Industries: Business Services, Consumer Products & Services, Energy, Industrials, Manufacturing, Distribution, Financial Services, Healthcare, Industrials, Technology



“Windstream Partners focuses on M&A advisory services, Capital Formation, Business Optimization, Strategic Planning, Restructurings & Turnaround transactions. The Windstream principals have completed Over $650 Million in transactions with Growth Stage and Lower Middle Market Companies.” Visit Windstream Partner’s Profile


Industries: Media, Telecom, Internet Services, Enterprise Software, SaaS, eCommerce, FinTech, BlockChain, Cyber Security, Business Services, Financial Services



“Affinity Ventures is a nationally recognized merger and acquisitions firm, specializing in complete advisory services to middle market companies. We are affiliated with the Alliance of M&A Advisors, ACG, IBBA, M&A Source and CBC industry groups and have earned many awards of distinction. As an example, our principal is one of only 85 accredited M&A Master Intermediaries in North America. Our experienced transaction team has a rich history of helping clients with business valuations, divestiture preparation, buyer identification and the complete facilitation of buy and sell side transactions since 1994.” Visit Affinity Venture’s Profile


Industries: Business Services, Energy, Industrials, Manufacturing, Distribution, Financial Services, Life Sciences, Healthcare, Industrials, Technology



“RLS Associates is a middle market private investment banking firm specializing in Mergers, Acquisitions, Divestitures and Strategic Management Consulting services to middle market companies with sales of $1M to $100M. RLS serves a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, distribution, service and technology. The common theme to most assignments is that at least one of the parties to each transaction will be closely-held business.” Visit RLS Associate’s Profile


Industries: Manufacturing, Financial Services, Consumer Goods, Industrials, Materials, Energy & Utilities, Business Services, Distribution, Consumer Services



“We are a very aggressive firm in an industry that is notoriously passive. We provide exit strategies for business owners that have built an empire, and we help younger entrepreneurs build their own empires.We have a superior understanding of the synergies that exist between business sellers and the people up and down the supply chain of their industry that can make a transaction successful. We advise our clients with the unvarnished truth of their situation, and we maximize their return quickly and quietly.” Visit Players Capital’s Profile


Industries: Business Services, Consumer Goods, Consumer Services, Financial Services, Media, Retail, Energy


“FourBridges Capital is an investment banking firm that serves business owners across the Southeast. We act as the interface between our clients and the capital markets, helping them to identify potential investors or acquisition targets and successfully complete transactions. Our senior professionals draw on both expertise in investment banking and experience as C-level executives, and they have spent most of their careers serving the middle market.” Visit FourBridges Capital’s Profile


Industries: Software, IT Services, Tech-enabled Services, Healthcare IT, Digital Media, eCommerce, Financial Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Infrastructure, Cybersecurity


“Founded in 1989, Bundy Group is a boutique investment bank led by an accomplished team. The firm has strong expertise in a number of industries, including Healthcare, Rail & Transportation, Controls & Automation, Energy & Power, Industrials, Technology, Building & Critical Infrastructure Products and Business Services. By leveraging the industry experience and resources of its team, Bundy Group is able to deliver its clients strategic insights and options in a business sale or capital raise process. ” Visit Bundy Group’s Profile


Industries: Energy, Technology, Business Services, Industrials


League Table Methodology


Unlike traditional league table structures that have remained the same for years, with firms being assessed against deal volume and deal dollar volume, Axial league tables surface data on investment banks that reveal their selectivity, the relative attractiveness of their client’s businesses, and their overall sell-side process efficacy.

The investment banks at the top of the Axial League Table are leaders across the following three categories:

  • Client Quality: Buy-side demand for engagements represented by the advisor
  • Buy-Side Targeting: The advisor’s ability to balance selectivity, accuracy, and breadth when identifying potential buyers
  • Process Effectiveness: The advisor’s ability to generate positive outcomes for their client

Axial League Table data incorporates and includes:

  • Overall Deal Relevance: How many buy-side mandates (financial and strategic) align with the advisor’s engagements.
  • Process Selectivity: How broad or narrow are the advisors’ sell-side processes relative to their peers?
  • Signed NDAs: How many buyers indicate interest in each of the advisor’s engagements, measured by the number of signed NDAs.
  • Buyer Referrals: Feedback we receive from buyers regarding the manner in which the advisor manages their processes.
  • Closed Deals: How many deals has the advisor closed where they involved one or more Axial buyers in the process?


Together, the top 20 investment banks are those who work with the most in-demand clients; balance breadth, selectivity, and accuracy in the buyers they engage; and generate the largest number of positive outcomes for their clients.


About Axial

Axial is the trusted deal platform serving the lower middle market ($5-$250M TEV).

Over 3,500 advisory firms and 1,800 corporate and financial buyers have joined Axial to efficiently connect with relevant capital partners, source actionable deals, and build new relationships.

Visit the Member Closed Deals page to see selected transactions that have been sourced and closed via Axial.

Learn More      Request a Demo

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