Advisory M&A

Alera buys Ascent Group, adds $2.8B in AUM; Heffernan snags Utah-based insurer; Marsh McLennan acquires HMS Insurance Associates; and more.

Retirement Advisory Alera Buys Ascent, Adding $2.8 Billion in AUM

Wealth, retirement and insurance firm Alera Group has acquired The Ascent Group, Inc. and affiliated companies, adding about $1.5 billion to Alera’s registered investment adviser business and $1.3 billion to its group retirement plan division, the company announced in a release.

The Ascent Group’s companies include Summit Group of Virginia, led by Jeff Silverman, and Pennsylvania-based Walsh & Nicholson Financial Group, led by Brian Walsh. The group’s investment infrastructure includes a turnkey asset management program intended to reduce client expenses by bringing functions in-house and eliminating vendors, according to the release.

“The Ascent Group fits our strategy of providing synergies and strategic benefits across our employee benefits and property and casualty verticals to provide more holistic solutions for clients that can truly bridge gaps for both plan sponsors and participants,” Christian Mango, Alera’s executive vice president and retirement plan services practice leader, said in the release.

Deerfield, Illinois-based Alera advisers work with plan sponsors on plans including 401(k), profit sharing, defined benefit, cash balance, 403(b), 457, PEP and deferred compensation.

Virginia Beach, Virginia-based Alera Group has more than 4,000 employees in more than 180 offices, according to the release.

Insurance Brokerage Heffernan Acquires Bon Agency

Heffernan Network Insurance Brokers, a subsidiary of Heffernan Insurance Brokers, has acquired the family-owned brokerage The Bon Agency Insurance, Heffernan announced in a press release.

The Bon Agency focuses on commercial lines and personal lines for clients in multiple states through its two offices, located in Clearfield, Utah, and Casper, Wyoming, according to the release. The company will operate autonomously as a subsidiary agency of the Heffernan Network, leveraging its market access, resources and support to grow.

Bon Agency President Kyle Corbridge and Vice President Matthew Tanner joined the Walnut Creek, California-based Heffernan Network, along with 12 of their team members, effective November 1, 2022.

Heffernan, which also has a retirement advisory and wealth management practice, said in the release that its growth strategy is focused on collaborating with privately-held independent brokers across the U.S.

Marsh McLennan Agency Acquires HMS Insurance Associates

Marsh McLennan Agency, a subsidiary of Marsh, announced in a press release that it has purchased Hunt Valley, Maryland-based HMS Insurance Associates, Inc., one of the nation’s largest independent agencies.

HMS provides businesses and individuals with property and casualty insurance, surety, group captive and employee benefits. HMS’ more than 120 employees, including President Gary L. Berger, will join MMA and continue to work out of the office in Hunt Valley, Maryland, according to the release.

“This is an opportunity to continue to enhance our capabilities and deepen our industry relationships, as well as augment the training and career development resources available to colleagues, in turn equipping them to best meet client needs,” Berger said in the release.

Marsh McLennan Agency provides business insurance, employee health and benefits, retirement and private client insurance solutions to organizations and individuals. Parent company Marsh is a broker and risk adviser with annual revenue of more than $20 billion in four businesses: Marsh, Guy Carpenter, Mercer and Oliver Wyman.

Prime Capital Advisors Acquires Sustainable Investment Firm and CA-Based Advisory

Prime Capital Investment Advisors acquired sustainable, responsible and impact investment firm Earth Equity Advisors to expand PCIA’s national footprint and provide the firm with valued momentum in the SRI space, the Overland Park, Kansas-based firm said in a press release.

Through the acquisition, PCIA brings on an additional $151 million in assets under management and about 275 new clients, the firm said.

Earth Equity founder, CEO and Director of Investments Peter Krull will join PCIA along with his team of three financial advisers and a client service associate. Earth Equity’s investment portfolios focus on investing in companies that are making a positive impact on the planet by investing in industries like clean energy, energy efficiency, battery technology, green transportation, sustainable real estate, and plant-based foods.

Asheville, North Carolina-based Earth Equity offers other financial advisors access to its portfolios via third-party investment platforms, including Envestnet and SMArtX. In Krull’s new role, he will continue to direct SRI investments and develop SRI education for PCIA advisers and clients.

“During our research, it was evident that partnering with Peter Krull and Earth Equity was a natural fit because they’re one of the most widely recognized advisory firms in the SRI space,” Glenn Spencer, CEO of PCIA, said in the release. “As leaders in the SRI space, Earth Equity will accelerate our efforts and enable us to provide clients with access to responsible investing options.”

PCIA also acquired Pasadena, California-based registered investment adviser Stonnington Group, LLC, adding presence in Southern California and $575 million in assets under management, PCIA announced in a press release.

The Stonnington Group works with high-net-worth individuals and families and is led by Nick Stonnington. He and four additional employees will join PCIA and will continue to serve about 275 clients. The Stonnington Group prioritizes active asset management, deliberate execution and reliable results, the company said in the release.

PCIA said it closed the acquisition on January 3.