The Hartford is on a buying spree. In December, Simsbury, Connecticut-based The Hartford Financial Services Group acquired three businesses–TopNoggin, Sun Life Retirement Services, and Princeton Retirement Group–to beef up its retirement plan services business.
Jim Davey, senior VP and managing director of the Hartford Retirement Plans Group, says that while The Hartford has rapidly grown its retirement business organically over the last five or six years, the financial services firm just couldn’t pass up the chance to grab the three companies because they not only helped add scale to its retirement plan business, but they also helped enhance the company’s product offerings while also injecting it into a new market.
For instance, purchasing TopNoggin, a Powell, Ohio-based defined benefit and administrative consulting firm, allows The Hartford to offer defined benefit capabilities. TopNoggin has 50 defined benefit plan clients spanning $4 billion in defined benefit plan assets and touching 375,000 retirement plan participants.
While large firms are over all trying to rid themselves of DB plans, the administrative side of the DB business is actually growing, Davey says. Large firms that have closed their DB “plan to their [existing] employees and new employees still have the administration of the existing plan,” he notes. Also, on the smaller business end, cash balance plans, which are a hybrid form of DB plan, are growing as well.
The Hartford now has access to TopNoggin’s proprietary technology that tackles the expensive, time-consuming, and cumbersome tasks of data management, administration, and benefit calculations. The technology allows The Hartford to provide its clients with the ability to provide plan administration and connectivity to their DB and DC benefits for their employees on one platform, Davey says.
Tom Foster, national retirement plans spokesperson for The Hartford, adds that most advisors have, for instance, typically offered their small business owner clients a straight profit sharing plan. Going forward, if advisors want to provide retirement plan solutions to these small business clients, he says, they must align with providers like The Hartford that have the services and can help them develop a strategy that provides support for both defined benefit and defined contribution plans.