Marsh & McLennan acquires Centurion, a $16 billion retirement group

Acquisitions in the retirement plan market are heating up

Apr 3, 2019 @ 4:36 pm

By Greg Iacurci

Centurion Group, an advisory firm overseeing $16 billion in retirement plan assets and 400,000 plan participants, is being acquired by Marsh & McClennan Agency, a subsidiary of the national insurance brokerage Marsh.

The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, is expected to close in the second quarter. Centurion, based in Plymouth Meeting, Penn., will become part of Marsh & McClennan's Trion Group. Jim Hageney, managing partner of Centurion, will continue to lead the group.

"Joining the MMA team gives us the opportunity to provide additional innovative resources and solutions to our clients while creating new growth opportunities for our colleagues," Mr. Hageney said.

(More: Wealth managers ignore 401(k) plans at their peril)

Acquisitions of large financial advisory firms focused on the retirement market appear to be gaining momentum. Cerity Partners, a wealth management firm backed by private equity firm Lightyear Capital, this week announced the acquisition of Blue Prairie Group, which oversees $11 billion in retirement plan assets. Captrust Financial Advisors this week acquired $13 billion in retirement assets from FiduciaryVest.

In January, InvestmentNews reported that Hub International, an insurance brokerage, had bought Sheridan Road Financial, a $14 billion firm headquartered in Chicago. And almost a year ago, private-equity firm Hellman & Friedman bought Financial Engines, a 401(k) robo-adviser, for $3 billion. It has since combined the business with advisory firm Edelman Financial Services to create Edelman Financial Engines.

In the majority of these cases, a retirement-focused firm was absorbed into one with a focus on wealth management or workplace benefits. Retirement plans provide such firms with additional distribution opportunities, whether wealth management for company executives or plan participants, or property-casualty insurance for employers, according to experts.

(More:What 401(k) record-keeper consolidation means to retirement plan advisers)

Captrust, for example, which oversees more than $300 billion in client assets, is in the midst of building out a similar strategy. The firm has historically focused its acquisition targets on retirement-plan consulting firms across the country, but is now buying wealth management firms in those same geographic areas in order to offer clients both 401(k) and retail advice services.

Centurion, founded in 2006, offers pension consulting, wealth management and financial planning, and employee group benefit consulting, in addition to 401(k) services. The firm's retirement-plan clients have 400,000 participants.

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