OneDigital is continuing its retirement plan adviser buying spree, announcing Thursday that it has acquired the assets of Baltimore-based Fiduciary Plan Advisors.
The deal adds $6 billion in retirement plan assets under advisement among 200,000 participants to OneDigital’s book. It follows seven other purchases the Atlanta-based company has made so far this year, including acquisitions of Westminster Consulting, Clearview Advisory and Atlanta Retirement Partners, which added $9.3 billion in assets under advisement, according to OneDigital.
Prior to this week’s deal, Fiduciary Plan Advisors was a Hightower Advisors affiliate. The full team of nine employees at Fiduciary Plan Advisors is staying on at OneDigital, said Jania Stout, managing director and cofounder of the firm.
“I had started to hire some younger advisers and wanted to find a place where they would have a lot of growth opportunity,” Stout said.
Fiduciary Plan Advisers started its due diligence process a year ago and identified 12 potential acquirers, she said. The company’s focus on financial wellness services for retirement plans made OneDigital a good fit, she said.
“We started to recognize that we either need to invest a lot of money in building out a better, more robust technology platform” or be acquired, she said. “We tried. … We went to some technology companies to see if we could do it ourselves. It was just too expensive, and technology was growing so fast. It got hard to stay on top of that.”
The acquired firm will remain in its office in Baltimore, which it moved into in November 2019 and has hardly spent any time in due to the pandemic, she said.
Industrywide, merger and acquisition activity has been rampant, with aggregator firms seeking to bulk up and finding seemingly unlimited money to do so. That trend has made selling a very tempting prospect for adviser firms that lack the resources to buy up other companies in the currently competitive environment.
“The marketplace is really good right now. What that tells us is that bigger firms see the value in investing in companies that invest in the people that they serve,” Stout said.
When she co-founded the firm seven years ago with Chad Wilson, she expected to build the business into a national firm, she said. The company considered being an acquirer, but most of the potential targets were recently scooped up — including several by OneDigital.
“My friends are at OneDigital,” Stout said. “It’s like going to work now, with all your best friends, across the country, that are now top advisers.”
OneDigital, which began its push into the retirement plan market last year with a string of acquisitions, now has 59 retirement and wealth management offices in the U.S., with a total of about 5,000 retirement plan clients and 900,000 participants, according to the firm.
As our second lead editor, Cindy Hamilton covers health, fitness and other wellness topics. She is also instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. Cindy received a BA and an MA from NYU.