The WSR Wealth Exemplar Awards Retirement Plan Advisory Firm of the Year goes to the top three wealth management firms with a majority or significant focus on advising retirement plans under ERISA. Firms must oversee a minimum of $1 billion in assets.
Merit Financial Advisors
Atlanta-based Merit Financial Advisors is a national wealth management firm supporting both the independent broker-dealer and RIA models while also running a robust retirement plan-focused business. As of Sept. 30, the firm had approximately $6.1 billion in assets serviced, of which $4.47 billion were advisory assets, $1.56 billion were brokerage assets and $92 million were assets under advisement. Merit, which was founded in 1995, has provided an array of retirement plan services over the years.
These have included turnkey financial wellness options for company retirement plan sponsors, retirement plan advisors and third-party benefits consultants; comprehensive Super Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction (OSJ) services for retirement plan-focused independent financial advisors affiliated with LPL Financial; and a recently established Retirement Plan division. Merit has 36 offices nationwide and in 2022 announced or conducted at least nine M&A deals, including with Mersberger Financial Group, a Wisconsin-based firm that provides qualified retirement planning services.
Newport Beach, California-based SageView Advisory Group is an RIA serving retirement plan sponsors and individuals throughout the United States since 1989. It has approximately $150.5 billion in retirement and wealth assets under advisement as of Sept. 30; 1,534 retirement plan clients and 2,058 retirement plans; 2 million plan participants and 130 professionals working under its retirement plan business.
SageView – which has a partnership with the financial services and technology-focused private equity firm Aquiline Capital Partners – advises on 401(k), 403(b), 457, defined benefit and deferred compensation plans, and provides comprehensive wealth management services to individuals and families. The firm’s retirement plan advisory services including investment consulting, plan compliance and design consulting, education and communication consulting, fiduciary risk management and provider comparative analysis.
Chicago-based HUB International began in 1998 as a Canadian insurance brokerage that later expanded into the U.S. wealth and retirement space. In 2019, the firm hired Adam Sokolic as Chief Operating Officer of its Retirement & Private Wealth (RPW) division, which grew from $9 billion in assets and 10 offices in 2018 to $142 billion and 60 offices in 2021. Sokolic led over 35 acquisitions of retirement and wealth management firms in three years.
Hub’s subsidiaries include San Rafael, California-based Global Retirement Partners, doing business as GRP Financial (GRP), a plan consulting firm serving plan sponsors and individual investors. It provides services for more than 1.3 million plan participants in more than 7,100 retirement plans, and the more than 470 GRP-affiliated advisors receive support for each aspect of retirement plan oversight. These advisors support employers in a 3(21) or 3(38) fiduciary capacity, and in some cases in both capacities.
Chris Latham, Deputy Managing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at email@example.com