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David Lau

DPL Receives $26M Investment From Eldridge, Atlas Merchant

The investment in David Lau's firm demonstrates confidence in the market for commission-free annuities in the RIA channel.

DPL Financial Partners, an insurance management platform for registered investment advisors, has received a $26 million investment from private investment firm Eldridge, an early investor in the company, and private equity firm Atlas Merchant Capital.

Executives from Atlas Merchant and Eldridge will join DPL’s newly formed board of directors, which will also include DPL founder and CEO David Lau with two independent members to be named later.

DPL, which was launched two and a half years ago by Lau, is a membership organization and focuses on bringing commission-free insurance products to the RIA market. The Louisville, Ky.–based company has grown to 62 employees and 1,100 RIA member firms. Lau said the additional investment will go toward technology development, hiring and marketing.

“There needs to be commission-free insurance,” Lau said. “The market is going that way in every direction. Mutual funds have gone no-load for decades; advisors’ business models—everybody’s moving to fee; everybody’s going independent, etc. The insurance world hasn’t kept up. The insurance world needs to be modernized, and it starts with modernizing the products.”

The company started out partnering with insurance carriers to develop more modern, commission-free annuity products, Lau said. It now has about 20 carriers on the platform.

DPL has also worked on workflow technology to integrate its platform into the advisor’s desktop and make these products more user-friendly for RIAs.


“These products are important to a financial plan, so you really want them integrated into the portfolio management systems, into the financial planning systems,” Lau said.

In September, DPL announced it would power the newly created SS&C Advent Insurance Marketplace, to provide advisors with access to insurance carriers providing commission-free products, as well as the expertise of DPL technology and consultants. That brought an additional 2,500 RIA firms under DPL’s support system.

DPL will be announcing some additional partnerships with technology providers this quarter, and this capital raise will help build up the technology to support those partnerships.

The firm has also built a price discovery tool, which allows advisors to compare any annuity product—fee-only or commission-based—against another.

It’s also in the process of launching a fixed income discovery tool, which will compare fixed income products against annuities.

“Annuities are a far better option for generating retirement income than traditional fixed income right now,” Lau said. “It’s a way of bringing to life all the academic research—the Wade Pfaus and David Blanchetts of the world—who talk about how powerful annuities are in generating income.”

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