Merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the retirement plan advisory industry is off to a roaring start in 2022, with the latest deal being inked by CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, which this week announced it is acquiring Portfolio Evaluations Inc. (PEI).
In cutting the deal with PEI, CAPTRUST joins other serial registered investment adviser (RIA) acquirers that have already announced major deals in 2022, including SageView, which purchased Channel Financial, and Hub International, which scooped up Raffa Financial Services.
Based in Warren, New Jersey, PEI provides advice, guidance, direction and education to the fiduciaries of institutional investment programs. Its clients include retirement plans, foundations, endowments and family office groups.
PEI was founded in 1992 and is led by Co-Founders and Partners Attila Toth, Michael Sasso and Rich Torbinski. The team brings to CAPTRUST more than $107 billion in assets and several hundred clients.
In explaining his firm’s motivation for the move, Toth points to the fact that CAPTRUST aligns well with his company’s core values. And, he adds, PEI believes the move to join CAPTRUST will “allow us to continue our remarkable track record of growth.”
“Joining forces with CAPTRUST will allow us to build out our solid foundation with additional services such as participant advice and expands our expertise in areas like alternatives and nonqualified benefits,” Sasso says.
“We’ve admired PEI for years, and they’ve been a formidable competitor,” notes Rick Shoff, managing director of CAPTRUST’s Advisor Group. “We are excited for this next chapter and believe coming together as two powerhouses in the independent advisory industry will only serve to make us all stronger.”
The deal closed late last year, making PEI the 54th firm to join CAPTRUST since 2006 and the ninth in 2021. Consistent with previous firms that have joined CAPTRUST, PEI will take on the CAPTRUST brand moving forward.
Wise Rhino Group served as exclusive adviser to PEI in its acquisition. The Wise Rhino Group deal team was led by Dick Darian and Peter Campagna.
“I met PEI partners Attila Toth, Mike Sasso and Rich Torbinski over lunch in 1992 just after they opened their doors,” recalls Darian. “I stayed in touch through my roles on the institutional investment distribution side and really enjoyed watching the remarkable growth of PEI’s capabilities and client base. It has been such an honor and thrill to represent the partners as they worked to best align the interests of their clients, staff and themselves.”
In various interviews with PLANADVISER, the Wise Rhino team has noted that its formal post-acquisition surveys with its clients—generally conducted one year and then three years after the close of the deal—reflect that most partner-acquirers have met the expectations of the advisory firm sellers. One of the most positive areas is client growth, especially within the insurance brokerage firm vertical where the benefits and property and casualty cross-selling has been highly successful.
On the RIA-acquirer side, Wise Rhino has also seen significant positives in terms of the new ownership helping to build a bridge from the acquired firm’s retirement business through advice and/or managed accounts to engage the participant in broader wealth advisory services. This is a common objective cited by serial RIA acquirers in discussions with PLANADVISER.