M&A Update: Pensionmark Acquired by World Insurance Associates

The acquisition will bring some $80 billion in assets from across the Pensionmark network to World Insurance Associates, a national full-service insurance brokerage firm.

The pace of retirement plan adviser industry mergers and acquisitions shows no sign of slowing in 2022 despite some emerging economic headwinds, with the latest landmark deal being announced by World Insurance Associates and Pensionmark.

On Thursday, news emerged that World Insurance Associates LLC has entered into an agreement to acquire Pensionmark Financial Group, the large national network of retirement and financial planning registered investment advisers. According to the announcement from World, Pensionmark currently supports more than $80 billion in assets across its network.

The comprehensive transaction includes Pensionmark’s Advisor Support Platform, the Pensionmark Financial Group registered investment adviser and the Pensionmark Securities broker/dealer. The Pensionmark entities consist of more than 300 retirement plan specialists, financial advisers and staff.

Headquartered in Santa Barbara, California, Pensionmark has more than 65 locations in the U.S. The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, but in conjunction with the acquisition, many existing Pensionmark advisers will become equity owners in World, which will enable them to participate in the future stock price appreciation of the combined business.

“Pensionmark is a natural fit with World since we both have the same value proposition for our clients and partners—provide a quality personal experience combined with large-scale resources,” says Rich Eknoian, World’s CEO. “The synergies between our two firms are undeniable. I am delighted to welcome the Pensionmark team to World and look forward to offering our clients and our acquisition partners an unparalleled experience.”

Troy Hammond, CEO of Pensionmark, echoes the sentiment.

“When we developed our adviser transaction model, we intentionally created a unique dynamic where an advisor could become an equity partner of a larger collective while maintaining ownership of their business,” he explains. “When entertaining our acquisition partner, we sought a firm that was committed to enhancing our platform, accelerating our growth and maintaining the team and culture that makes Pensionmark special. I know World is exactly that partner and I look forward to an exciting future for our clients and advisers.”

Michael Woods, president of Pensionmark, says his firm’s new partner is growth-minded and offers a suite of complementary verticals, including employee benefits, business insurance, payroll and human resources solutions.

“Employers are looking for our advisers to deliver more than just financial advice,” Woods says. “The ability to provide top-tier solutions for all our clients’ needs will prove to be invaluable for our clients’ growth, our advisers’ growth and our own growth.”

These comments about bringing advisory firms and insurance carriers closer together echo those made by other firms and industry executives who have entered into M&A transactions in recent years. According to Wise Rhino Group, which supported Pensionmark in the new transaction, insurance firms are arguably the best positioned to integrate retirement advisory firms, as most have established operating companies and have coveted growth currency in the form of employee benefits and property-casualty referrals.

Moving forward, Hammond will lead the financial services initiatives for World to continue to enhance the company’s suite of client offerings. He and the Pensionmark advisers will partner with Jennifer Barton of World’s employee benefits practice to offer a comprehensive total rewards solution for employers.

Another party with an interest in the transaction is CAPTRUST, which back in 2015 established a strategic partnership with Pensionmark that saw the launch of a joint-owned RIA enterprise.

Asked for comment on World’s acquisition of Pensionmark, Ben Goldstein, CAPTRUST president, offered the following statement: “In 2015, CAPTRUST completed a transaction that included a minority investment in Pensionmark’s affiliate business, now known as the Pensionmark Retirement Group, plus the full acquisition of Pensionmark’s advisory business. At this time, we are divesting our investment in PRG, but will retain the advisory business located in Santa Barbara, California. We are thrilled with the great work and leadership of Troy Hammond and Mike Woods and the stellar investment returns PRG delivered to CAPTRUST shareholders. Further terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.”