Recordkeeper JULY Secures PE Financing to Drive Growth Plans, Including M&A

Platform Partners LLC to enter into partnership with JULY to extend relationships with advisers and drive strategic acquisitions.

Retirement plan provider and administrator JULY Business Services said Tuesday it secured capital investment from private equity firm Platform Partners LLC to fuel its growth strategy, including acquisitions and product innovation.

JULY, which specializes in retirement plan design for small and midsized businesses, said the investment is part of a growth strategy to build its base of advisers and white label and business process outsourcing services. The firm did not disclose details of the investment.

“We’re excited to have Platform alongside us,” says JULY CEO John Humphrey. “With our retirement plan expertise, and their experience of working with businesses of our size, we’re looking forward to taking those next steps to do even more for our clients.”

Humphrey says the investment will also go toward strategic acquisitions in areas including growing its actuarial practice and recordkeeping to provide JULY with more depth and scale. The firm has a pipeline “already in the works,” Humphrey says, though he declined to provide details. JULY acquired Expand Financial LLC, an investment advisory firm, in 2020, and Summit Benefits, a retirement plan recordkeeper, in 2019.

The private equity investment adds to a trend in recent years of investment in the retirement space. Wise Rhino Group, a retirement M&A advisory firm, said last week that the total volume of transactions through Q3 is down slightly from the same quarter in 2021 but that it anticipates a “flurry” of deals in Q4 that might push the total number for the year above 2021.

In April of last year, private equity firm Stone Point Capital along with GIC, Singapore’s private wealth fund, announced their acquisition of retirement services provider Ascensus. In an interview at the time, Ascensus CEO David Musto told PLANADVISER that the acquirers shared “our confidence in the strategic importance and growth potential of the retirement, education and health savings market.”

The Waco, Texas-based JULY said it was one of the first 401(k) recordkeepers to launch Pooled Employer Plan (PEP) services with ERISA 3(16) plan fiduciary support in 2021, part of a policy to support business owners and employees start pooled retirement plans.

“The retirement market in general, and all of the regulatory framework around qualified plans are just complex, and small and midsized businesses don’t normally have the time and expertise to manage it,” Humphrey said.

Platform Partners is based in Houston and manages total assets of $950 million.