The rapid pace of retirement plan adviser merger and acquisition (M&A) activity shows no sign of slowing down in the second half of 2021, with one of the latest deals being announced by ProCourse Fiduciary Advisors and MJ Insurance.
In basic terms, MJ Insurance has acquired ProCourse, which was recognized as the PLANSPONSOR Retirement Plan Adviser Team of the Year in 2010, when it was still called the Prince Group. According to the firms, the acquisition will enable the delivery of a more holistic approach to financial wellness that is fully integrated with retirement plan advisory services. The transaction closed on June 30.
“We believe the marketplace will begin moving away from a siloed approach toward employee benefits, retirement and compensation management and will evolve to an integrated total rewards philosophy,” explains Andy Vetor, executive vice president of MJ Insurance. “The merging of our firms allows us to uniquely address total rewards consulting via an integrated approach to data analytics that to this point has not been effectively introduced to employers and their associates.”
According to Wise Rhino Group, an M&A consulting firm which was involved in this deal and a substantial amount of prior adviser M&A action, insurance-focused firms are arguably the best positioned to integrate retirement advisory practices. This is in part because most insurance-focused firms have pre-established operating companies and coveted growth currency in the form of employee benefits and property-casualty referrals. They are also the most experienced acquirers and are very effective at integrating new partner firms, generally speaking.
As the Wise Rhino Group points out, firms such as Hub International, NFP, Marsh & McLennan Agency (MMA), OneDigital, Gallagher, Lockton and USI have been the most active strategic acquirers of retirement-focused advisory shops over the past several years. Other firms, including Alera Group and AssuredPartners, are beginning to emerge on the scene and offer greenfield opportunities for retirement advisory firms.
Zooming in on this latest deal, ProCourse founder and CEO Doug Prince will continue to serve as CEO of ProCourse, with the entire team of 13 remaining in the Carmel, Indiana, location. According to Prince, ProCourse and MJ Insurance have been close partners for nearly a decade and already have a shared vision for the future.
“The synergies and cultures of our two firms is what makes this partnership so ideal,” Prince says. “Our combined goal is to make a difference in people’s lives—not solely from a retirement planning, benefits and financial wellness standpoint—but addressing total wellness. This move will allow us to take the shared client experience to the next level.”
Michael H. Bill, CEO of MJ Insurance, offers a similar take: “As a purpose-driven organization, it is important for us to partner with other like-minded organizations. Each of our firms possess a unique expertise in health and welfare, and retirement consulting. More importantly, we have a shared philosophy when it comes to organizational culture and client service. This partnership amplifies our commitment to creating an exceptional client experience.”