With the rate at which independent broker-dealer mergers and acquisitions have accelerated since 2017, these conglomerates have begun to shift the benefits industry toward sales-driven strategies and the commoditization of services, often at the cost of the employer/employee experience.
Massachusetts-based brokerage Innovo Benefits Group and Aegis Retirement Partners recently formed an alliance dubbed IA Solutions Group in response to the strong tide of consolidation among larger firms.
As operating margins of IBDs have plummeted over the last decade, two types of business models have emerged as the industry steadily consolidates: large firms with scale, and smaller, more focused firms serving a niche, according to a recent study by Fidelity Investments.
IA Solutions Group addresses this gap in the market for clients by disrupting industry trends through enlarging coverage of the value proposition — pairing expertise with personalized service to yield strategies that drive competitive advantage.
Jennifer Gesner, corporate vice president at CloudWave, a healthcare IT provider, says the crew at IA Solutions Group has assisted her firm and is pursuing a relationship with the alliance.
“They’re creative in how they approach what they do — from the industry insight they share to the thoroughness in their research and understanding our employees’ needs to the level of employee education they provide,” Gesner says.
Without merging, thought leaders at both firms are joining forces to serve clients who require a broader range of services, while also expanding their position as services providers.
Aegis Retirement Partners and Innovo Benefits Group will continue to operate independently in their respective areas of expertise, offering the same client-focused services.
Eric Gulko, founder and president of Innovo Benefits Group, says the alliance is a natural extension of how he has always done business. “Bucking the industry trend toward consolidation among large national firms, this partnership allows us to remain true to our regional roots and boutique approach as we find new ways to help clients thrive in today’s competitive business climate,” Gulko says.
Complexity of HR management has also heightened the number of challenges that business leaders face in managing their retirement plan and employee benefits strategies. Douglas Norberg, partner at Aegis Retirement Partners, says building trust and confidence through personal service is the way both firms will provide real value to clients.
“We are excited to introduce IA Solutions Group to clients who have moved among service providers because they didn’t want to be rolled up into a larger organization and the different service model that entails,” Norberg says. “IA Solutions Group extends our shared philosophy and offers a powerful tool that will help us deliver innovation and address the increasing level of customization that all of today’s HR and business leaders need to thrive.”
Looking to the future, IA Solutions Group seeks to continue driving innovation with complementary services through a range of partners who share the same vision for superior customer service. Throughout, the advisory will retain its foundational roots — offering the expertise and thought leadership of larger national firms while maintaining the “white glove” quality of service of a boutique.
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