CAPTRUST Acquires Retirement Planning Practice From Plante Moran Financial Advisors

The ‘carve-out’ acquisition brings CAPTRUST’s assets under advisement to $400 billion and represents the continuation of an important retirement plan industry trend involving large, diversified financial services firms.

CAPTRUST Financial Advisors has announced another 2020 acquisition, this one taking the form of a “carve-out” transaction that will see the retirement planning practice of Plante Moran Financial Advisors (PMFA) join the rapidly growing practice.

Prior to this acquisition, the PMFA practice was 100% owned by Plante Moran—one of the largest certified public accounting, tax, wealth management and consulting firms in the United States. PMFA retained ownership of the firm’s individual wealth management practice, and remains under the umbrella of the larger Plante Moran organization. According to CAPTRUST’s leadership, with the addition of the PMFA retirement plan advisory team, the firm has surpassed $400 billion in assets under advisement (AUA).

The advisory team at PMFA is led by partners Dori Drayton and Susan Shoemaker, who will be joining CAPTRUST as senior vice presidents. Along with Drayton and Shoemaker, 11 additional team members will transition to CAPTRUST. The group joining CAPTRUST is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Southfield, Michigan, and it advises on approximately 200 institutional clients and 240 retirement plans, representing more than $6 billion of institutional assets.

“Susan and Dori have built a phenomenal team; they made us better immediately and we believe they will benefit from the significant scale we have built in the retirement business at CAPTRUST,” says Rick Shoff, managing director of CAPTRUST’s adviser group. “Despite the volatile market conditions, CAPTRUST has continued on its growth trajectory, which has been further bolstered by the four teams we have added this year.”

This is the 42nd team to join CAPTRUST since 2006 and the fourth this year. Consistent with previous deals, the retirement plan advisory team from PMFA will take on CAPTRUST branding. At the same time, Plante Moran, through PMFA and affiliated entities, will retain its broader wealth management clients, meaning Plante Moran will be providing investment consulting, financial planning, trust, insurance consulting, estate planning, business succession and tax planning services.

“It was clear from the beginning that CAPTRUST was the ideal partner to take our team into the next chapter,” Drayton says. “Our clients will immediately be able to tap into CAPTRUST’s participant advice capabilities, a deep research team, and world-class customer support technology. We look forward to introducing our plan sponsor clients to our new colleagues at CAPTRUST.”

Those readers who have been tracking retirement industry merger and acquisition (M&A) action over the past several years will recognize this transaction as the latest in a series of deals that are slowly but surely reshaping the look and feel of established advisory practices. Simply put, well-established retirement plan advisory practices are being both purchased and offloaded by major diversified financial services companies such as Plante Moran.

In this case, it seems clear that the broader Plante Moran organization does not feel retirement planning is part of its core business, nor does it want to continue to make the significant technology and staffing investments needed to service this line of business. So it is seemingly capitalizing on the “sellers’ market,” i.e., the fact that retirement plan advisory firms targeted in acquisitions are seeing very generous offers. In this environment, serial acquirers such as CAPTRUST are not hesitating to pay premium prices to bring on board well-established practices that will immediately expand a firm’s geographic footprint.

On the other side of the spectrum stand firms such as OneDigital and HUB International. These firms are in a similar position to the Plante Morans of the world, but they are making the opposite move and are seeking to rapidly and significantly expand their capabilities in the retirement advice market. Their motivations appear to be the ability to cross-sell their many other products and services to the large client sets touched by the plan adviser community.

HUB International started its buying spree of established retirement plan advisory and wealth management firms in January 2019, when it announced the acquisition of Sheridan Road Financial. The buying streak continued last September, when HUB announced six acquisitions of firms that were part of Global Retirement Partners (GRP). This round of acquisitions brought on board EPIC Retirement ServicesStoneStreetWashington FinancialPerennial Pension & WealthWhartonHill and Inter-Mountain Retirement Partners (MRP).

OneDigital has been similarly active in the M&A market. The national health care and insurance benefits provider acquired Resources Investment Advisors LLC, an advisory network headquartered in Overland Park, Kansas, earlier this year. The acquisition represented the largest single assemblage of deals in OneDigital’s history, as it touched on 13 different advisory firm entities.