Washington Financial Scooped Up By Hub International

With the acquisition of Washington Financial Group, HUB International has made public the first of a series of significant anticipated acquisitions of Global Retirement Partners firms.

Hub International Limited, a global insurance brokerage and financial services firm known as “Hub,” announced it has acquired the assets of Wash Financial LLC, which does business as Washington Financial Group (WFG).

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, and sources suggest this will not be the last announcement by Hub to the effect that it has acquired a firm that is part of Global Retirement Partners (GRP).

WFG is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, and led by CEO Joe DeNoyior and President Jeff Hamblen. The firm was named last year to the PLANADVISER Top 100 listing. The firm also won recognition as the Retirement Plan Adviser of the Year in the Small Team category in 2017.

According to David Reich, national president, Hub Retirement and Private Wealth, the international company aims to continue to strengthen its retirement planning services and benefits with the addition of talent and resources to develop more comprehensive solutions for clients.

“Our vast network of clients is asking for help, not only with managing their plans, but also helping their employees reach better outcomes,” Reich said in a statement announcing the deal. “WFG has demonstrated leadership and a commitment to excellence in driving better solutions not just for employers, but for hard-working employees as well. Joe, Jeff and their team are a great fit for Hub. They truly are leaders in the space.”

For their part, the WFG advisers say they are excited to be part of the Hub team “given their expertise, resources and technology to help our clients pursue their financial objectives, coupled with a commitment to provide an unsurpassed level of proactive service to each of our clients.”

Their messaging is similar to that broadcast by Sheridan Road Financial earlier this year when that firm agreed to be acquired by Hub, again with Reich leading the negotiations. Technically speaking, DeNoyior will join Hub Mid-Atlantic, working with Reich and collaborating heavily with Charles Brophy, Hub president and CEO, regional president, U.S. East.

While the announcement of the WFG deal is significant in itself, sources expect this to be just the first in a series of acquisitions of GRP firms. Should the series of acquisitions occur as expected, sources say, this would represent yet another major milestone in the ongoing consolidation and reshaping of the registered investment adviser (RIA) industry.

In just the last year, leading independent RIA firms such as Blue Prairie Group LLC and Sheridan Road were acquired by larger financial service companies and employee benefit providers seeking a foothold in the retirement plan space. At the same time, national RIAs such as CAPTRUST have been buying up smaller retirement and wealth-focused shops across the country, announcing multiple deals, it seems, quarterly.

Amid this activity, independent shops seeking to remain solo continued to affiliate with entities such as Resources Investment Advisors LLC. These firms offer scalable back-office support and access to many of the client-facing solutions a CAPTRUST or Hub can bring to bear.

GRP went through another significant ownership transition back in March 2015, wherein a consortium of retirement plan advisory firms effectively banded together and bought GRP. The original participating firms in the acquisition were EPIC Retirement Services Consulting in New York, New York; Heffernan Financial Services in San Francisco, California; MRP in Denver, Colorado; Oswald Financial, Inc. in Cleveland, Ohio; Retirement and Benefits Partners in Slingerlands, New York; StoneStreet Advisor Group in Pearl River, New York; and Washington Financial Group in McLean, Virginia.

At that stage, Bill Chetney, who remained in his role as CEO of the GRP entity, explained how the acquisition approach was about allowing these firms to “control their destiny” in a rapidly evolving advisory marketplace. He suggested that, by buying into the existing RIA and OSJ (office of supervisory jurisdiction), the firms would “charge themselves a haircut like they charge anyone,” but the adviser ownership would now get to share in that revenue. Although GRP already had an opportunity for advisers and employees to share in the incremental growth of the company, Chetney said they would benefit from this “ESOP concept.”