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Retirement Industry People Moves

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Pentegra Combines With New Pinnacle Consulting Group

Pentegra Services, Inc. has announced its acquisition of New Pinnacle Consulting Group, LLC, a full-service third-party retirement plan administration firm based in Cornelius, North Carolina. Founded in 2007, NPCG specializes in 403(b) plans and currently manages over 600 retirement plans for clients nationwide.

“This acquisition supports our strategic objective of expanding market share—particularly in the area of third party administrative and 3(16) fiduciary services for 403(b) plans,” said John E. Pinto, Pentegra president and CEO. “Our combined brands and businesses mean increased scale, presence and relevance in a continually evolving industry.”

Pentegra will oversee the combined entity. Gary Mauger, co-founder and managing partner of NPCG, will continue to play an integral role in the new organization.

With this acquisition, all NPCG employees will join the Pentegra organization.

Annexus and Integrity Join Forces to Transform Annuity and Life Insurance Product Design and Distribution

Integrity Marketing Group, LLC, a distributor of life and health insurance and a provider of wealth management and retirement planning solutions, has announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Annexus, an independent insurance and financial product design and distribution company. As part of the transaction, Ron Shurts, co-founder and CEO of Annexus, will become a managing partner in Integrity.

Annexus develops financial and insurance products, including fixed indexed annuities and indexed universal life insurance policies, for many insurance companies. In addition to product development, Annexus provides a full range of marketing, technology and illustration systems to its distribution partners.

Since its founding in 2006, Annexus has served over half a million Americans with their retirement needs. In 2022, Annexus expects to place approximately $7 billion in annuity premium and $150 million in target life insurance premium.

“At Integrity, we are passionate about holistically serving the life, health and wealth needs of Americans to ensure they have the best solutions and coverage for every stage of life, including retirement,” said Bryan W. Adams, co-founder and CEO of Integrity. “Since its founding, Annexus has been the market leader in developing annuity and life insurance products with the highest level of service in the industry. Joining the Integrity platform will provide the experienced team at Annexus with a comprehensive suite of technology, resources and support to layer on top of their already exceptional systems and processes. The partnership will give Integrity access to Annexus’ deep product development and distribution partnership expertise, which will greatly enhance our mission to help more Americans prepare for the good days ahead.”

Through Integrity’s platform, Annexus will gain access to a breadth and depth of proprietary technology and resources, including real-time quoting and enrollment systems and customer relationship management software.

Empower Bolsters Its Brand With Legacy Name Alignment

Empower has announced a series of entity name alignments that aim to strengthen its brand and simplify how the organization connects with customers.

An eight-year-old financial services provider, the firm is fully aligning its legacy company names under the Empower brand. These changes follow a series of other recent changes, including the acquisition of the “empower.com” domain.

To further promote alignment and consumer recognition, Empower has changed the names of its U.S. companies with a legacy “Great-West” name to an “Empower” name. In addition, Empower’s in-house institutional investment advisory and research division has also been renamed “Empower Investments,” and certain investment products offered by Empower, including mutual funds historically marketed under the “Great-West Funds” brand, are also being renamed to incorporate “Empower” into the product names in place of “Great-West.”

Empower’s legacy organization originally came to Denver in the 1970s. Empower was created in 2014 through a three-part merger of the retirement companies of Great-West Financial, Putnam Investments and J.P. Morgan Retirement Plan Services.

Since then, Empower has grown organically and through acquisitions that have boosted the business to $1.4 trillion in assets under administration.

In April 2022, Empower closed its deal on the acquisition of Prudential Financial, Inc.’s full-service retirement business. In 2020, Empower bought the retirement business of MassMutual and registered investment adviser Personal Capital.

Since 2014, the Empower brand has been used in advertising, marketing and some public communications for the brand. In 2019, the firm bought the naming rights to the Denver Broncos’ stadium, which is now called “Empower Field at Mile High.”

The companies changing their names are:

  • Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company is now Empower Annuity Insurance Company of America.
  • Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company of New York is now Empower Life & Annuity Insurance Company of New York.
  • Great-West Trust Company, LLC is now Empower Trust Company, LLC.
  • Advised Assets Group, LLC is now Empower Advisory Group, LLC.
  • Great-West Funds, Inc. is now Empower Funds, Inc.
  • Great-West Capital Management, LLC is now Empower Capital Management, LLC.
  • Great-West Financial Retirement Plan Services, LLC is now Empower Plan Services, LLC.
  • GWL&A Financial Inc. is now Empower Holdings, Inc.
  • GWFS Equities, Inc. is now Empower Financial Services, Inc.

Strategic Investment Group Adds to Client Portfolio Management Team

Strategic Investment Group has announced that Nathalie Cunningham has joined the firm as a managing director on the client portfolio management team. Cunningham joins a team of five senior professionals with an average of 27 years of industry experience and 12 years with Strategic dedicated to partnering with Strategic’s 30 clients.

Most recently, Cunningham was a senior investment officer at Cornell University, where she was responsible for a range of traditional and alternative asset classes in the university’s endowment of over $10 billion. Prior to that, she served as director of public market investments for the University System of Maryland Foundation. Before transitioning to endowment management, she served as partner and portfolio manager for Terrapin Asset Management, LLC. Nathalie serves on the Pensions & Investments Committee of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C. and as a member of the board of directors for The Dapper McDonald Foundation.

Nathalie holds an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business and a B.A. from McGill University. She is a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst charterholder.

Edelman Financial Engines Acquires RIA Smart Investor

Edelman Financial Engines has announced the acquisition of Smart Investor, a fiduciary registered investment adviser that provides comprehensive financial planning and investment management services. The transaction closed August 1.

Headquartered in Roseville, California, with a second office in Woodland, California, Smart Investor manages over $680 million for more than 500 individual clients and also offers retirement plan management to small businesses. The transaction expands EFE’s presence in the Northern California market and adds to its capabilities to better serve the retirement plan needs of small businesses.

Baker McKenzie served as EFE’s counsel in connection with the transaction. Keating and Lyden, LLC served as Smart Investor’s counsel and Republic Capital Group acted as an adviser.

This transaction follows the acquisition of Viridian Advisors in 2021, which expanded EFE’s adviser network in the Northwest and added tax practice capabilities.

CapAcuity Appoints New Director of Marketing, Managing Director

CapAcuity, an executive benefit consulting and asset management firm, has announced that it has appointed Kerry St. George as director of marketing and David Baum as managing director.

St. George will serve as CapAcuity’s brand ambassador, expanding the company’s distribution in the executive benefit marketplace and further raising awareness of CapAcuity’s products and services. She will develop and manage important relationships with the firm’s intermediary partners, including financial consultants and advisers.

Baum will also develop relationships with advisers, collaborating with them to bring CapAcuity’s suite of services to executive benefit plan sponsors—including nonqualified plan design; asset/liability management; funding and hedging of plan liabilities; and financial reporting.

St. George and Baum each have more than 30 years of experience in in the financial services industry, focusing on the design, funding and administration of both qualified and nonqualified benefit plans.

Most recently, both held positions as regional directors with Newport Group, which was recently acquired by Ascensus. St. George was previously a vice president and client relationship manager with MullinTBG, a Prudential Financial company, and held a similar position with Willis Towers Watson. Baum has held senior marketing positions with UBS, MetLife and other leading financial services firms. Baum and St. George speak regularly to industry groups and have written a variety of articles on the subject of deferred compensation and executive benefits for leading publications.

Mercer Advisors Acquires Mallard Advisors

Mercer Global Advisors, Inc. has announced the acquisition of Mallard Advisors, LLC. Mallard, a respected wealth management firm located in Hockessin, Delaware, serves 109 clients with assets under management of approximately $165 million. Mallard was founded by William D. Starnes in 2002. Starnes and his team will be joining Mercer Advisors.

Mallard is a financial planning and wealth management practice with experience working with data-driven clients, such as scientists, engineers and financial professionals. When it comes to decisions involved in transitioning into retirement, these professionals want to see all the details and calculations involved in the analysis in order to feel secure in their decisions.

Commenting on the transaction, founder William D. Starnes stated: “At Mallard, my team and I are dedicated to serving our clients with excellence and see our clients as extended family. Moreover, I am committed to the success and development of my staff. 

As the sole founder and owner of the firm it is incumbent on me to make sure my clients and team are taken care of if something were to happen to me. To that end, I partnered with Mercer Advisors through their Mutual Assistance Pact program wherein they would look after my clients and staff if something unforeseen should happen to me,” Starnes said. “I worked with Mercer Advisors Vice Chairman David Barton to put that MAP plan in place several years ago and have been very happy with the arrangement. As time went on, however, I realized it was time for me to work on my own transition plan and once again reached out to Dave Barton and Mercer Advisors whom I respect and trust. Together we worked on, and successfully completed, my succession plan, and I am thrilled to join a firm like Mercer Advisors alongside my fantastic team.”