PEP entrant Smart to buy Stadion – InvestmentNews

Deals in the retirement plan business are already flying in 2022, with new acquisitions announced Thursday by Smart, Hub and NFP.

Smart, a U.K.-based company that’s preparing to launch a pooled employer plan in the U.S. this year, is buying Athens, Georgia-based Stadion Money Management. The purchase will give Smart a massive boost in managed accounts and personalized services for its future clients, and it will be able to provide retirement income options as part of that, the firm’s U.S. business CEO Jodan Ledford said. Stadion’s business includes more than 4,000 retirement plans and $2.3 billion in assets under management.

“The future is personalized,” Ledford said. Adviser managed accounts or stand-alone managed accounts will be “a key component for success in the future.”

As an outsider entering a market dominated by incumbents with a long history in the U.S. retirement business, Smart isn’t attempting to sell plans built mostly of propriety investments and services, he said. That means partnerships through technology with other asset managers and service providers.

“Our whole business model is about enabling other market participants,” Ledford said.

The company’s options can thus be delivered “like Voltron, in the future,” he said.

Although the company is planning to start off with a PEP slated to launch in July, it is also considering the groups of plans model and “cookie-cutter” style single-employer plans, he noted.

“There is a lot of fanfare on pooled plans … You see a lot of posturing. People think that pooled plans are going to reduce the number of plans in the market and consolidate assets,” he said. “But our view is that pooled plans are going to enable millions of businesses and participants to have better outcomes for retirement.”

The acquisition will nearly double Smart’s U.S. head count, with 40 employees from Stadion joining Smart’s 44 employees. The sale is expected to close during the first quarter, according to the announcement.

Globally, Smart has about 650 employees and oversaw more than $3 billion in assets as of the end of November.


Also Thursday, Hub International announced that it recently bought Rockville, Maryland-based Raffa Financial Services, an insurance and employee benefit brokerage and consulting firm. Raffa works with employers in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., and includes retirement plan advisory services as part of its business. The acquisition closed on Dec. 31.

Raffa’s business includes 165 retirement plan clients, representing about $1 billion in assets, according to Hub.


On Dec. 1, NFP closed on its acquisition of New York-based third-party administrator Improved Funding Techniques, which has an internal RIA, the company announced Thursday.

Improved Funding Techniques provides “a consolidated solution for designing, implementing and administering retirement plans for privately owned business,” NFP stated. The deal adds scale to its retirement business in the Northeast, and the “acquisition also advances NFP’s existing internal TPA expertise, while adding complementary defined benefit plan capabilities that can be leveraged across the entire organization.”

As part of the deal, Improved Funding Techniques president Daniel Bystrom has joined NFP as a senior vice president.