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United Capital Expands Retirement Business

United Capital recently expanded its footprint in the retirement business by acquiring Maryland-based PSA Insurance & Financial Services' $1.1 billion in plan practice assets.

The deal, announced Monday, lifts out PSA’s retirement plan and wealth management business units, allowing the Maryland-based firm to concentrate on its insurance operations and services.

“The core reason this has happened was that PSA is a top-100 insurance operation and we were not giving these other two units the attention they needed,” PSA Managing Director Trevor “Chip” Lewis said. “So this is a wonderful marriage. Clients will be better served than ever and employees will have opportunities that they never would have had under our umbrella.”

The acquisition also boosts United Capital’s existing retirement business, which is currently supported by advisors at the PFE Group. That firm, operating under United Capital Retirement Advisors, has about $8 billion in plan assets under advisement. 

“That entity supports all of United Capital’s retirement accounts around the country,” said Matt Brinker, United Capital’s head of national partner development. PSA serves small to mid-sized corporate clients with plans ranging from $3 to $400 million.

This deal has actually be in the works for some time. PSA contracted with the PFE Group last August to jointly operate its fiduciary consulting practice, basically a trial run to see if the companies could coexist.

“We’ve had over a year partnership with the intent that if the dating worked well, if the cohabitation worked well, we were going to get married," Lewis said. "And it’s worked well, so here we are."

Over a dozen employees spread across the two business units—which represent about 12 percent of PSA’s revenue—will shift to United Capital, although they will continue to share space in PSA’s 50,000-square-foot offices in Hunt Valley, Md. 

Mike Miller, a principal with PFE, has relocated there to lead the retirement plan business, and Will Kelley, a managing director of United Capital in Buffalo, N.Y., also recently transferred there to take the helm of the wealth management business, which has $189 million in assets.

“The plan is that these practices will aggressively grow,” Lewis said, adding that PSA will maintain a partnership with United Capital to leverage its over 4,000 corporate insurance relationships for cross-selling opportunities. Lewis said under the deal, PSA became a shareholder in United Capital.

In addition to its new outpost in Hunt Valley, United Capital also recently acquired the assets of Pittsburgh-based Select Financial Group. The firm has about $270 million total assets managed by a staff of seven employees led by founder and managing director, John “Jack” Abriola.   

“The industry has drastically changed and made it difficult to conduct business,” Abriola said. “At first the change was coming little by little and then the pace increased over the past few years to warp speed. I came to the conclusion that my team and clients deserved an environment that would offer a path of success and succession.”

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