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Top 25 Lower Middle Market Investment Banks [Q2 2022]


We are excited to release Axial’s Q2 2022 Lower Middle Market Investment Banking League Tables.

As economic uncertainty further deepened across the market in Q2, the lower middle market remained heads down and continued to up the ante with its increased deal activity. And while the LMM is by no means sheltered from an economic recession, abysmal stock market performance, two record-setting interest rate hikes, and continued inflation are not reflected when looking at Axial transaction data from Q2.

The number of deals marketed on Axial in Q2 of this year was up almost half compared to the same time frame in 2021, and 35% from Q1 of this year. We saw an increase in both revenue and EBITDA for transactions in-market, with a continued emphasis on Industrials, Consumer, and Technology businesses. 

One thing is for certain: lower middle market investment banks are keeping busy.

Congratulations to Q2’s top 25 investment banks!

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 Q2’s Top 25 lower middle market investment banks for their results in the first quarter of the new year.

More than 750 investment banks brought deals to market using Axial in Q2. 

Here are the top 25.

Top 25 Investment Banks

Rank Firm HQ
1 Peakstone Group IL
2 FOCUS Investment Banking VA
3 Woodbridge International CT
4 Clayton Capital Partners MO
5 Vertess Healthcare Advisors, LLC TX
6 ACT Capital Advisors WA
7 New Direction Partners PA
8 Northern Edge Advisors NY
9 Embarc Advisors CA
10 Market Street Capital, Inc. TX
11 Two Roads Advisors NY
12 STS Worldwide GA
13 SDR Ventures CO
14 Bridgepoint Investment Banking NE
15 Liberty Ridge Advisors WA
16 Crystal Capital Consulting OH
17 Cornerstone Business Services, Inc. WI
18 Casspium Associates, Inc. NY
19 Aberdeen Advisors, Inc. FL
 20 American HealthCare Capital CA
21 JD Merit & Company WA
22 Pacifica Advisors CA
23 XLCS Partners TN
24 Transact Capital Partners VA
25 Ascend Strategic Partners, LLC CA

Honorable Mentions

Client Quality

Firm HQ
Sun Mergers & Acquisitions NJ
Vista Business Group KS
Wyndham Capital Group, LLC FL
Gleason Advisors PA

Buyer Targeting

Firm HQ
Miller Advisory Corp. FL
R.L. Hulett & Company, Inc. MO
PCE Investment Bankers FL
Taureau Group WI
JGH Consulting GA


Process Effectiveness

Firm HQ
Vertex Holdings, LLC FL
Allegiance Capital Corporation TX
Three Sixty Seven Advisors FL
RedShift Advisors PA
Chinook Capital Advisors WA


Industry Specialists 

Firm HQ
Lawrence, Evans & Co., LLC OH
Peak Technology Partners LLC CA
SF&P Advisors FL
Hughes Klaiber NY
Aurum Capital Connect CO


About the Top 25


“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.”

Industries: Business services, Consumer Goods, Data/Analytics/BI, Distribution, Transportation, Trucking, Financial Services, Food & Beverage, Health & Wellness, Healthcare, Industrials, Manufacturing, Real- Estate; Retail, Tech Software/Saas

Visit Peakstone Group’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



“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



“Clayton Capital Partners (CCP) is one of the nation’s top independent investment banking firms for the middle market, as reported by Thomson Financial, Mergerstat and Investment Dealers Digest. The reasons for our success are simple: We understand our client’s expectations and believe in exceeding them.”

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

Visit Clayton Capital Partners’ Profile



“VERTESS is a healthcare-focused Mergers + Acquisitions (M+A) advisory firm that helps owners increase their company’s financial value and negotiate the best price when they decide to sell their own company or grow through acquisition. Our expertise spans diverse healthcare and human service verticals, ranging from behavioral health and intellectual/developmental disabilities to DME, pharmacies, home care/hospice, urgent care, dental practices, life sciences, and other specialized services and products. Each VERTESS Managing Director has had executive experience in either launching or managing and ultimately successfully exiting a healthcare company.”

Industries: Health Care, Life Sciences

Visit Vertess Healthcare Advisors, LLC’s Profile


6. 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



“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.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Business Services, Industrials, Media 

Visit New Direction Partners’ Profile



“Northern Edge is a boutique investment bank with a core focus on sell-side financial advisory services for privately owned North American businesses. We dedicate a senior team to lead and advise, support, and guide to deliver the best possible outcome for each of our clients. What sets us apart: decades of experience have earned us a preeminent track record for completing successful transactions across virtually every industry and an enviable reputation for always being on our client’s side, every step of the way. A sale is a significant point in a business owner’s journey, and the right path forward can be uncertain if you don’t know the way. By navigating it alongside our clients, we become their decisive advantage. Their Edge.”

Industries: Consumer Goods, Materials, Energy & Utilities, Retail, Healthcare, Consumer Services, Media, Life Sciences

Visit Northern Edge’s Profile



“Former Goldman Sachs and McKinsey consultants providing Finance-as-a-Service to support startup and middle market companies with their M&A activities. We also work with Private Equity / Venture Capital firms in their deal underwriting and due diligence.

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

Visit Embarc Advisors’ Profile



“Market Street is a boutique capital company with a rich history of creating value for our clients. Our firm offers a powerful combination of strategic advisory, capital raising and public domain expertise.”

Industries: Financial Services, Industrials, Business Services, Healthcare, Agriculture

Visit Market Street Capital’s Profile



“We are a boutique investment bank focused on providing excellent advice on mergers & acquisitions, capital raises, and corporate strategy & performance to businesses that are at a crossroads in their lifecycles”

Industries: Consumer Goods, Consumer Services, Healthcare IT/ Tech, IT Services, Tech-Enabled Services, Tech Software/Saas

Visit Two Roads Advisors’ Profile



“STS Worldwide was founded in 1983 with a vision to create a platform for success in USA for IT talent harnessed from around the world. We are a full service Information Technology Company that responds to customer challenges by a unique combination of talent, technology, and solutions harnessed from around the world. STS Worldwide has several decades of expertise in specialized project based solutions, software products, and global talent acquisition services. Recently, STS Worldwide merged with Global Information Technology, currently fielding over 1,500 employees nationwide covering both healthcare and information technology domains. We are funded by International Capital Partners, a private investment firm focused on investing in healthcare and IT innovations.”

Industries: Business Services

Visit STS Worldwide’s  Profile


13. 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



Bridgepoint Investment Banking is a market-leading boutique investment bank that serves clients over their corporate lifecycles by providing capital raising and M&A advisory solutions. We serve clients globally across a range of focus sectors. Together, Bridgepoint principals have more than 274 years of investment banking experience, allowing us to provide our clients with Wall Street-quality experience and deep national and international funding and buyer connectivity. We have successfully moved more than $121 billion of capital across 218 completed debt, equity and merger and acquisition transactions. Bridgepoint Investment Banking is a tenacious, creative and results-oriented boutique investment bank focused on impact and value creation for the companies we serve. We provide confidential, independent and unconflicted solutions and strategic advice. We have an unequivocal focus on our clients and their prosperity. We measure our performance by the long-term success of our clients.”

Industries: Consumer Goods, Manufacturing, Industrials, Technology, Financial Services, Materials

Visit Bridgepoint Investment Banking’s Profile



“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. The final summit, for any private business owner, is to achieve hard earned liquidity and successfully exit the business on one’s own terms. Even the most experienced climbers understand that it’s a team effort and would never dare to summit Liberty Ridge without the aid of an experienced, results-focused guide. Likewise, we believe that when the stakes are high and the potential rewards are grand, no business owner, regardless of how experienced or savvy, should attempt the difficult and challenging journey of exiting their business without partnering with experienced advisors.”

Industries: Manufacturing, Financial Services, Industrials, Consumer Goods, Materials, Business Services, Distribution, Healthcare

Visit Liberty Ridge Advisors’ Profile



“We offer our clients truly strategic advice and process execution which are the result of knowledge and vision. By combining a deep understanding of an organizations objectives, their industry, and today’s global market, we help navigate the short- and long-term opportunities and challenges facing an organization. For over 30 years, our team has been managing complex financial transactions that maximize value for our clients while earning their trust and building long-term advisory investment banking relationships. Our commitment to remain independent from any investment or capital source ensures that we deliver unbiased guidance. It also promotes maximum competition among capital sources, helping to fully leverage value for our clients.”

Industries: Retail, Manufacturing, Energy & Utilities, Distribution, Healthcare, Real Estate, Consumer Services, Consumer Goods, Industrials, Technology

Visit Crystal Capital Consulting’s Profile


17. 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



“Casspium Associates is a New York-based Buyside Mergers and Acquisitions Intermediary that specializes in providing Outsourced Mergers and Acquisitions Origination services for strategic corporations and private equity-backed portfolio company clients actively seeking to acquire and invest in companies with $5 million to $50 million in revenues.”

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

Visit Casspium Associates, Inc.’s Profile



“Aberdeen Advisors is a mid-market and lower mid-market merger and acquisition firm. Aberdeen focuses on selling companies in the Southeast United States generating less than $5 million to more than $100 million in annual revenues. Additionally, Aberdeen represents sellers of successful businesses in the Southeast.”

Industries: Technology, Business Services, Financial Services, Consumer Goods, Industrials, Healthcare, Materials, Media, Life Sciences, Telecommunications

Visit Aberdeen Advisors, Inc.’s Profile



“American Healthcare Capital is a 33 year old, full service, nationwide mergers & acquisitions advisory firm. With over $1 Billion in active Sell-Side and Buy-Side engagements, we cover the entire spectrum of the healthcare industry including but not limited to Home Health, Hospice, Private Duty, Behavioral Health, IDD, DME, Medical Staffing, Long Term Care and all types of Pharmacy. With an emphasis on healthcare transactions, we understand the need for a unique approach to the healthcare services sector. Since we’re always in the market, we pride ourselves on our intimate, real time knowledge of the marketplace. Since our network of buyers is larger than any other middle-market advisory firm, we know who’s buying for a premium, who is selling for a discount, and what deals can get financing. We also own Healthcare Receivable Lenders, which provides competitive, non-recourse accounts receivable financing in conjunction with Union Bank, as well as real estate loans for healthcare facilities. Our full scope of services include: 1. Sell Side Engagements 2. Buy Side Engagements 3. Accounts Receivable Lending 4. Real Estate Loans for Healthcare Facilities.”

Industries: Healthcare, Life Sciences

Visit American Healthcare Capital’s Profile



“JD Merit is a leading boutique investment bank focused on middle market companies. We are experts in M&A transaction execution and closing. We combine decades of experience with technical expertise, tenacity, creativity, and dedication to ensure not only that a transaction is closed, but that it is closed in our client’s best interest. We deliver market-leading outcomes by applying the integrity, intelligence, insight, instinct, and intensity of a trusted advisor, with no conflicts. We provide end-to-end M&A advisory services, utilizing our specialized M&A 2.0® process to deliver the most qualified and capable buyers at above-market prices with better terms and certainty of close. We don’t just take on clients – We close deals. As a full-service Broker / Dealer, licensed in all 50 states, JD Merit executes sell-side M&A, buy-side M&A, and capital advisory services. In addition, JD Merit offers other Investment banking services such as debt and equity capital raises, corporate finance and valuation, and real estate & project finance.”

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

Visit JD Merit & Company’s Profile



“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, Healthcare, Life Sciences

Visit Pacifica Advisors’ 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, Inc.’s Profile



“Transact Capital and subsidiary, Transact Capital Securities, represent business owners in the confidential sales of their business. Founded in 2001, our firm’s 17 experienced professionals specialize in selling privately-owned, mid-tier businesses throughout the U.S with enterprise values of up to $150MM. We have cultivated a reputation for providing our clients with a team of extremely smart, truthful, deal-savvy, close-oriented professionals with a bias for action and an overwhelming concern for our client’s well-being.”

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

Visit Transact Capital Partners’ Profile



“Ascend Strategic Partners is a mergers & acquisitions (M&A) advisory firm geared specifically for owners of middle-market businesses with earnings of $1 to $25 million and deal values of $5 to $200 million. Our team has completed over 100 transactions and over 500 M&A engagements. We have 15 M&A professionals and over 50 professionals (ex-CEO’s and top consultants) throughout the US with deep expertise in most industry sectors.”

Industries: Financial Services

Visit Ascend Strategic Partners, LLC’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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Email [email protected] to learn more.


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