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Top 25 Lower Middle Market Investment Banks [Q1 2022]


We are excited to release Axial’s Q1 2022 Lower Middle Market Investment Banking League Tables.

Momentum from a record-breaking year of deal-making set the stage for what was expected to be a very active Q1. However, just as the economy was finally beginning to move on from the Covid-era, a new, yet no-less complex set of uncertainties was introduced into the markets: inflation, broken supply chains, and war in Europe triggered extreme volatility in the public markets, and dampened the pace of M&A in the private markets. Global M&A deal value and volume dropped by almost 20% in Q1, compared with the same time period last year. 

As we’ve seen in the past, the lower middle market, resilient as ever, remained surprisingly active despite the broader market volatility. New transactions marketed by Axial members increased by 26% YoY. The rate at which buyers on the Axial network pursued those transactions increased by 7% QoQ:

Quarterly Deal Activity Summary

Investment Banking League Tables

Axial’s Lower Middle Market Investment Banking League Tables aggregate and rank Axial sell-side M&A advisors based on their quarterly deal activity. Three factors disproportionately drive league table ranking:

  • Client quality (based on pursuits per deal)
  • Buy-side targeting (pursuit rate per deal)
  • Deal outcome (down-funnel LOI and closure activity)

For detailed methodology, see the end of this feature.

Congratulations to Q1’s Top 25 lower middle market investment banks for their results in the first quarter of the new year.

930 investment banks brought deals to market using Axial in Q1. 

Here are the top 25.

Top 25 Investment Banks

Rank Firm HQ
1 Auctus Capital Partners IL
2 FirePower Capital ON
3 FOCUS Investment Banking VA
4 41 North LLC CA
5 Woodbridge International CT
6 Align Business Advisory Services FL
7 Gleason Advisors PA
8 Pacifica Business Advisors CA
9 ACT Capital Advisors WA
10 Cornerstone Business Services, Inc. WI
11 SDR Ventures CO
12 Salt Creek Partners CA
13 A. Buchholtz & Company, LLC NY
14 Madison Street Capital IL
15 Venture North Group AK
16 Clarke Advisors LLC AZ
17 Telos Capital Advisors TX
18 Bengur Bryan & Co., Inc. MD
19 Business Acquisition and Merger Associates NC
 20 Plethora Businesses CA
21 Evangeline Securities LA
22 Crewe Capital UT
23 XLCS Partners TN
24 Global Wired Advisors NC
25 True North M&A MN

Honorable Mentions

Client Quality

Firm HQ
Peakstone Group IL
Corporate Investment TX
BridgePoint Company IN
Seaport Global NY
Dresner Partners IL

Buyer Targeting

Firm HQ
DelMorgan & Co CA
Kratos Capital TX
Stillwater Capital ON
Windsor Capital CA
Pickwick Capital NY


Process Effectiveness

Firm HQ
Purpose Equity SC
Embarc Advisors CA
Brandywine Mergers & Acquisitions, LLC PA
O’Keefe & Associates Consulting, LLC MI
Kaulkin Ginsberg MD


Industry Specialists 

Firm HQ
Corum Group WA
MBS Advisors MA
Pinnacle Pharmacy Group AZ
M&A Healthcare Advisors CA
Vertess Healthcare Advisors, LLC TX


About the Top 25



“Auctus Capital Partners a multi-faceted financial group specializing in merger & acquisition advisory; institutional private placements of debt and equity; financial restructuring; valuation; and strategic consulting. In select situations, Auctus also provides debt/equity cash infusions to lower middle market companies through its affiliate Auctus Partners, L.P. Our experienced professionals have the foresight necessary to navigate through highly complicated transactions to maximize value for our clients.”

Industries: Business Services, Consumer Goods, Consumer Services, Distribution, Energy & Utilities, Financial Services, Health Care, Industrials, Life Sciences, Manufacturing, Materials, Media, Real Estate, Retail, Technology, Telecommunications

Visit Auctus Capital Partners’ Profile



“FirePower Capital’s M&A professionals have directly executed on 76 deals since 2013. We advise private, owner-operated Canadian companies on their major transactional activity: mergers & acquisitions (sell- and buy-side) and growth. Our work spans most industries except for resource extraction, pharmaceuticals and life sciences. Thoughtful advice, keen market insight, bespoke but technology-driven transaction processes and a quickly-expanding network have led to our deals getting over the finish line with significantly more certainty and creativity than our competitors can point to.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Consumer Goods, Industrials, Technology, Business Services, Retail, Materials, Distribution, Health Care, Life Sciences, Consumer Services, Telecommunications

Visit FirePower Capital’s Profile



“With more than three decades of experience, FOCUS Investment Banking is a trusted name in middle market M&A advisory services worldwide. FOCUS works to understand each client’s strategic and financial objectives, craft the best plan to achieve these goals and deliver success. FOCUS is a partner driven firm and all 25+ bankers are seasoned C-level operating executives and most have participated in transactions as a principal. Our cadre of over 30 senior advisors are available to advise and assist bankers when deep industry domain knowledge is appropriate.”

Industries: Advanced Manufacturing, Automotive Aftermarket, Business Services, E-commerce, Food & Beverage, Government Aerospace & Defense, Industrials & Energy, Healthcare, Human Capital Management, Life Sciences, Technology Services, Supply Chain, Telecommunications

Visit FOCUS Investment Banking’s Profile


4. 41 North

“41 North is a fully licensed Investment Bank which provides mergers & acquisition and growth capital advice to companies looking for high touch, professional, and experienced principal to principal service. Each of our Managing Directors has over 25 years of working experience in both domestic and international capital markets, with extensive experience communicating and negotiating with strategic or financial buyers.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Consumer Goods

Visit 41 North LLC’s Profile



“Woodbridge International markets your company to more buyers globally than any other Sell-Side M&A firm. We create a competitive auction for your company by contacting 50 times more buyers than other investment bankers do. We’re also the only firm that brings sellers to market in print, video and social media. Our videos pique buyers’ interest, allowing them to meet our clients on-screen and spotlight the company’s unique competitive advantages. You don’t have to take our word for it – watch our video testimonials after we’ve closed their deal.”

Industries: Business Services, Consumer Goods, Consumer Services, Distribution, Energy & Utilities, Financial Services, Health Care, Industrials, Life Sciences, Manufacturing, Materials, Media, Real Estate, Retail, Telecommunications

Visit Woodbridge International’s Profile


6. Align

“Align Business Advisory Services (“Align”) is a nationwide Mergers & Acquisitions Advisory firm focused on the lower-middle-market. Their team of industry professionals align buyers and sellers in successful transactions, providing advice and guidance before, during, and after the transaction. The firm is based in Orlando, Florida, with locations throughout the country such as Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Denver, and Dallas.”

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

Visit Align Business Advisory Services’ Profile


7. Gleason

“When closely held, private companies have a need for financial advice – in seeking a liquidity event or when capital needs to be raised, for example – Gleason Advisors acts as a trusted partner to business owners and management. We provide valuable financial and strategic advice throughout the business life cycle. Our service offering at Gleason Advisors allows us to work with businesses facing a wide range of issues and financial challenges. These situations often call on us to leverage our symbiotic relationship with the services of Gleason Experts, where we have deep expertise in forensic accounting, litigation support, and bankruptcy proceedings. Combined, these groups allow us to serve our clients as a more complete financial advisor. Providing value beyond dispute.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Consumer Goods, Industrials, Materials, Technology, Retail, Business Services, Distribution, Health Care 

Visit Gleason Advisors’ Profile


8. Pacifica

“With over $2 billion in lower middle market transactions. We focus on strategic exits and add-on acquisitions for companies with EBITDA of $500K to $10 million and Enterprise Value of $2 to $100 million. Whether you are searching for a new platform, growing through an add-on acquisition, or preparing for a sale, we are ready to assist you with one main objective in mind, to maximize the value of your business.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Consumer Goods, Energy & Utilities, Health Care, Life Sciences

Visit Pacifica Business Advisors’ Profile


9. ACT

”ACT Capital Advisors has facilitated the mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures of hundreds of companies. Our principals have closed mergers and acquisitions totaling over $2 billion in total corporate transactional value. Our team consists of dedicated professionals who apply their extensive expertise and experience to achieve maximum value for their companies and clients. We work closely with our client’s financial and legal advisors. With multiple decades of experience, ACT’s principals have represented a diverse range of industries, including manufacturing, contracting, wholesale, distribution and service industries. Our track record of success has provided us with an understanding and appreciation of the unique challenges presented by each industry, and allows us to continue to best realize the goals of our clients.”

Industries: Consumer Goods, Industrials, Materials, Energy & Utilities, Financial Services, Retail, Technology, Business Services, Health Care, Consumer Services, Media, Real Estate, Life Sciences, Telecommunications 

Visit ACT Capital Advisors’ Profile


10. Cornerstone

“Cornerstone Business Services is a boutique investment bank serving the lower middle market, domestically and internationally for over 20 years. We create value through acquisition, valuation and exit strategies, with a focus on businesses typically with annual revenue from $5 million to $150 million. Being one of the largest M&A firms in the Midwest focused exclusively on the lower middle market, we bring a team of specialist, our proprietary Assurance 360 process and the full benefits of being a founding member of the Cornerstone International Alliance to clients to achieve extraordinary results.”

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

Visit Cornerstone Business Services’ Profile


11. SDR Ventures

“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.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Consumer Goods, Industrials, Business Services, Technology, Distribution, Health Care, Energy & Utilities, Financial Services, Materials, Consumer Services, Life Sciences, Media, Real Estate

Visit SDR Ventures’ Profile


12. Salt Creek

“Salt Creek Partners (“SCP”) is a boutique M&A advisory firm operating in the Southwest, Southeast, New England and Gulf Coast regions. SCP serves business leaders in the emerging growth and middle markets. We specifically focus on clients looking to be acquired and companies wanting to make an acquisition. We provide strategic consulting to re position and optimize companies wanting to sell in order to ultimately increase its valuation. In launching this firm, we assembled a team of complementary partners who have proven track records with managing complex financial transactions, providing investment banking services, performing market research and analysis, guiding companies from concept through hyper growth, and building companies towards an exit. We have seen firsthand that the growing and middle market companies are underserved and we are committed to changing that reality.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Financial Services, Consumer Goods, Industrials, Technology, Retail, Business Services, Health Care, Consumer Services, Life Sciences

Visit Salt Creek partners’ Profile


13. A. Buchholtz

“A. Buchholtz & Company team members have closed hundreds of transactions. They have worked in virtually all industries and have served as trusted advisors to many companies when buying or selling their businesses. ​If you are looking for straight-forward, transparent process management and advice on your M&A transaction, A. Buchholtz & Company can help you. Serving small business owners, entrepreneurs, private equity firms and strategic sellers of businesses For transaction sizes of $10 million to $1 billion of value. Particular specialization in media and tech.”

Industries: Technology, Media, Business Services, Consumer Services

Visit A. Buchholtz & Company’s Profile


14. Madison Street

“Madison Street Capital is an international investment banking firm dedicated to the highest standards of integrity and professionalism – provides corporate financial advisory services, mergers and acquisitions expertise, valuation services, and financial opinions to publicly and privately held businesses through our offices in North America, Asia, and Africa. Our professionals draw on specialized expertise in partnering with middle-market firms in all industry verticals and niche markets to achieve an optimal outcome through a variety of transactions. Madison Street Capital’s professionals precisely analyze each client’s needs to determine the best match between buyers and sellers, arrange cost-effective financing, and produce capitalization structures that maximize each clients’ potential. Madison Street Capital is a trusted partner and industry-leading provider of financial advisory services, M&A assistance and business valuations.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Technology, Business Services, Energy & Utilities, Financial Services, Health Care, Industrials, Distribution, Life Sciences, Consumer Goods, Consumer Services, Telecommunications, Materials

Visit Madison Street Capital’s Profile 


15. Venture North

“Venture North is firm based in Anchorage, Alaska that provides a full suite of services to our buy-side, sell-side and capital finding clients. We have successfully managed and handled engagements in a wide variety of industries and are recognized as a leader in assisting in the sale, or purchase of businesses. We do business throughout the US, but we have unmatched expertise in the Alaska market. Due to Alaska’s very low level of VC and PE activity, the returns tend to be higher and deal quality better than in other, more competitive markets. Our team has more than 30 years of experience working in diverse industries, which has enabled us to build our services and solutions in strategy, consulting, mergers, acquisitions and capital finding that assist our clients in maximizing their potential.”

Visit Venture North’s Profile


16. Clark

“Clarke Advisors LLC is a specialized Financial Advisory and Merchant Banking Firm, providing the highest quality Investment Banking services including institutional financing, merger, acquisition and divestiture for small to medium-sized private and public companies. Clarke’s Industry Focus is Transportation, Logistics and Technology. Members of Clarke are FINRA Licenses Series 7, 79 and 63.”

Industries: Technology, Distribution, Energy & Utilities, Industrials 

Visit Clarke Advisors LLC’s Profile


17. Telos

“Telos Capital Advisors ( is an investment banking firm that helps privately-held companies sell their businesses, acquire other businesses, and raise capital. Our services include accomplishing mergers and acquisitions, obtaining financing, sourcing loans for distressed or bridge finance situations, and financial restructuring.”

Industries: Technology, Energy & Utilities, Health Care, Manufacturing, Media, Business Services, Industrials, Life Sciences

Visit Telos Capital Advisors’ Profie


18. Bengur Brian & Co.

“Bengur Bryan & Co., Inc. is an investment banking firm that provides merger and acquisition advice, private placements of equity and debt, and financial advisory services including valuations, fairness opinions and restructuring advice. The middle market companies that are our principal focus typically have enterprise values that range between $10 and $200 million. We have specific industry expertise in the business and financial services, transportation and logistics, industrial growth, information technology and consumer industries. We commit senior, experienced investment bankers on every transaction. This focus of talent and experience gives our clients the high level of service that they require and deserve. We welcome your inquiries and referrals and promise a prompt and professional response.”

Visit Bengur Brian & Co., Inc’s  Profile



“Business Acquisition and Merger Associates is a results-oriented, middle market intermediary firm located in Charlotte, NC. Founded on the principle of adding value and professional skill to business transfers, BAMA helps clients acquire or sell companies. Our “buyer” clients are both financial and strategic buyers, management teams, private equity groups and mezz lenders who are looking to invest in good companies. “Seller” clients include business owners who desire recapitalizations for founder-family business transfer, growth capital, corporate divestitures and those seeking business transfer due to retirement, health, family or personal reasons. Three key principles drive BAMA’s work. They can be summed up in one sentence. Execute a confidential process with people we enjoy who value and desire the unique skill set and services offered by BAMA. If our business philosophy aligns with yours, then let’s talk about working together.”

Industries: Distribution, Industrials, Health Care, Business Services, Consumer Goods, Consumer Services, Life Sciences, Manufacturing, Technology

Visit Business Acquisition & Merger Associates’ Profile


20. Plethora

“Plethora Businesses is a leading M&A firm specializing in mergers, acquisitions and appraisals. We’ve been successfully advising business owners & investors throughout the United States since 1999. Our knowledgeable experts have a proven track record of guiding business transactions to successful closings in a confidential manner.”

Industries: Consumer Goods, Industrials, Materials, Retail, Business Services, Consumer Services, Media

Visit Plethora Businesses’ Profile


21. Evangeline Securities

“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. Evangeline Securities was formed by a group of top tier Wall Street professionals with the singular goal of providing the highest level of capital and advisory services. We guarantee senior level attention, a tireless work ethic and a creative, entrepreneurial approach to every transaction with the ultimate goal of building a long-term, successful relationship with our clients.”

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

Visit Evangeline Securities’ Profile


22. Crewe Capital

“Crewe Capital, LLC is an independent investment banking, securities, and mergers and acquisitions firm that provides a wide range of financial services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, and family offices.”

Industries: Technology, Business Services, Media, Energy & Utilities, Telecommunications

Visit Crewe Capital’s Profile


23. XLCS Partners

“XLCS Partners, Inc. is an independent investment banking firm that provides M&A advisory, capital raising and debt advisory for select clients globally. Middle market companies and private equity funds rely on our creative solutions, thoughtful insight and truthful advice when considering exiting their companies, making strategic acquisitions, partnering with private equity sponsors and raising debt or equity capital.and raising debt or equity capital.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Industrials, Consumer Goods, Financial Services, Technology, Retail, Business Services, Energy & Utilities, Materials, Distribution, Health Care, Media, Consumer Services, Real Estate, Life Sciences, Telecommunications

Visit XLCS Partners’ Profile


24. Global Wired

“Global Wired Advisors is a leading Digital Investment Bank focused on helping founders and families exit the highly successful companies they have built. The firm specializes in sell-side M&A Advisory engagements in the e-commerce ecosystem, including consumer brands and e-tailers, Amazon-centric businesses, SaaS companies, digital marketing agencies, and logistics and fulfillment businesses.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Consumer Goods, Technology, Retail, Business Services, Distribution

Visit Global Wired Advisors’ Profile


25. True North M&A

“True North Mergers & Acquisitions advisors serve business owners from across the country who want to sell companies that generate annual revenue between $5 million and $150 million.”

Industries: Industrials, Manufacturing, Consumer Goods, Business Services, Financial Services

Visit True North M&A’s Profile

League Table Methodology


Unlike traditional league table structures that have remained the same for years, where firms are 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 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. 
  • 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.
  • Executed LOIs: How many deals the advisor successfully managed to take under LOI with an Axial buyer
  • Closed Deals: How many deals has the advisor closed where they involved one or more Axial buyers in the process?

Together, the top 25 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 2,000 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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