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Top 20 Lower Middle Market Investment Banks [Q4 2019]


We are excited to release Axial’s Q4 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.


7 of the 20 top investment banks were new to the list in Q4, with the remaining 13 firms returning from Q3. 

823 investment banks brought deals to market using Axial in Q4. 

Here are the top 20.


Top 20 Investment Banks


Rank Firm HQ Score
1 FiSol CA .99
2 Strategic Finance CO .98
3 Baird Business Owner Solutions  KY .98
4 Peakstone Group IL .98
5 New Direction Partners PA .97
6 Atlas Technology Group CA .97
7 FirePower Capital ON .96
8 Evangeline Securities LA .96
9 Players Capital Group NC .95
10 True North Strategic Advisors IN .95
11 FourBridges Capital Advisors TN .94
12 Sett & Lucas NY .94
13 Affinity Ventures NM .93
14 Smith Holland Advisors TX .93
15 RLS Associates DE .92
16 Potomac Business Capital MD .91
17 Sunfield Advisors NC .92
18 Liberty Ridge Advisors WA .92
19 Seaport Global NY .91
 20 GreerWalker Corporate Finance NC .90


Honorable Mentions

Client Quality

Firm HQ
Clayton Capital Partners MO
Osage Advisors CT
SF&P Advisors FL
SDR Ventures CO
Sun Mergers & Acquisitions NJ


Buyer Targeting

Firm HQ
Sandfox Advisors CA
Boxwood Partners VA
Vertess AZ
Stout Risius Ross Advisors IL
Bundy Group NC


Process Effectiveness

Firm HQ
Windstream Partners AZ
Scott-Macon NY
Golden One Ventures HI
EBB Group TX
Everingham & Kerr NJ


About the Top 20



“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


“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


“We advise buyers and sellers on business sales, mergers, acquisitions, ESOPs and other similar transactions. Our Business Owner Solutions team will deliver the strategic advice and practical guidance to help you achieve the optimal outcome in your business transition. Our credentialed, experienced business valuation team understands both the art and science of business valuation. We tailor each project to the client’s unique situation and needs. The ongoing M&A experience of our Business Owner Solutions team is a critical factor grounding our valuations in the real world. When you’re ready to transition your business to new ownership or to the next generation, our Business Owner Solutions team can help you develop a comprehensive and detailed exit plan that creates long-term financial security for you and your family and preserves your business legacy.” Visit Baird Business Owner Solutions’ Profile


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


“The Peakstone Group is an investment bank that specializes in mergers and acquisitions advisory and capital raising for middle market clients. Our team is comprised of senior investment banking professionals and operating executives, all of whom have decades of experience and have executed hundreds of transactions totaling billions of dollars.” Visit Peakstone’s Profile


Industries: Business Services, Consumer & Retail, Distribution, Financial Services, Food & Beverage, Health & Wellness, Healthcare, Industrials & Manufacturing, Metals & Mining, Mortgage Banking, Paper, Plastics & Packaging, Real Estate, Technology & Data Services, Transportation & Logistics


“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


“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


“Evangeline Securities provides investment banking services to lower middle market companies across a broad spectrum of industries. With offices in Lafayette and New Orleans, LA, the firm offers corporate finance, securities placement, M&A and restructuring expertise. Evangeline professionals bring their collective decades of experience to each assignment, having raised institutional capital and performed advisory services for deal sizes ranging from $10 million to over $100 million.” Visit Evangeline Securities’ Profile


Industries: Consumer & Retail, Energy, Gaming & Leisure, Healthcare, Industrial Services, Manufacturing, Technology, IT Services, Real Estate, Business 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


“True North Strategic Advisors is a premier advisory firm dedicated to providing small and medium-sized businesses with expert advice. Our extensive, diverse corporate experience offers the high-level strategic direction typically found only in major-market firms.” Visit True North Strategic Advisors’ Profile


Industries: Transportation, Manufacturing, Industrials, 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


“Sett & Lucas is a leader in global mergers and acquisitions in the enterprise software and SaaS, digital marketing, and information technology services markets. The firm has a global leadership position in cross border M&A in IT and ITES markets. S&L has a history of working with clients in the technology sector to strategically position them for success. Being an independent financial institution, S&L brings unconflicted sell side advisory to entrepreneurs, family offices and private equity clients. Over 60% of the transactions we advise on are cross border in nature — and sometimes involve multiple jurisdictions.” Visit Sett & Lucas’ Profile


Industries: Technology, Business Services, Media


“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


“Smith Holland is a different type of middle market M&A advisory firm. Based out of Chicago, we believe results should come before fees and maximizing shareholder value for clients is at the core of everything we do. Combined with our concentrated focus on sell-side only representation, our experienced advisors have helped hundreds of clients execute successful exit strategies by anticipating and adapting to transactional challenges and changing market conditions. Our world-class team of M&A professionals combines the art of deal making with the science of data-driven market intelligence to help our clients achieve their financial goals. With offices in Chicago, London, Dallas and Vancouver, we take an agile approach to M&A strategy execution and we consistently deliver these services with the utmost integrity and professionalism.” Visit Smith Holland Advisors’ Profile


Industries: Manufacturing, Financial Services, Consumer Goods, Industrials, Materials, Technology, Retail, Business Services, Distribution, Health Care, Consumer Services, Real Estate, Telecommunications


“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


“Potomac Business Capital helps Sellers maximize value. From pre-deal strategic planning, to target development identification to negotiation and eventually closing the deal, Sellers will have a trusted, experienced advisor throughout the entire process. Focused on Lower Middle Market for the Digital Transformation, Digital Marketing and Technology companies in the US and abroad.” Visit Potomac Business Capital’s Profile


Industries: Technology, Media, Business Services, Retail


“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


“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


“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


“Greer & Walker, LLP, founded in 1984, is the largest Charlotte-based accounting and consulting firm, with a total staff of over 80 people. Our team understands the type of industries common to the Carolinas, including manufacturing & distribution, real estate, construction, not-for-profit, motorsports and service firms. Our depth of knowledge is such that we offer our clients a full complement of assurance & advisory services as well as a broad range of tax specialties, including international tax. Through our affiliated firm, Greer & Walker Investment Advisors, LLC, we also offer fee-based investment advisory services. Additionally, we are well equipped to deal with the challenges of doing business across state borders and in foreign countries. Through our membership in PKF North America and PKF International Limited, a global network of legally independent accounting and consulting firms, we have direct and immediate access to over 240 of the top accounting firms throughout the United States and the world. Our firm is a long-standing member of numerous professional and trade organizations, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).” Visit GreerWalker’s Profile


Industries: Consumer Goods, Industrials, Materials, Energy & Utilities, Retail, Business Services, Health Care, Consumer Services, Media, Life Sciences


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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