Nationwide adds 4,000 advisors and $4.7 billion in client assets. (Photo: River North Photography/Connecticut Law Tribune)

Nationwide and Jefferson National are now one. 

The Columbus, Ohio-based insurance carrier made a huge investment in the RIA world by bringing aboard Jefferson National, a distributor of investment products that counts some 4,000 advisors and $4.7 billion in client assets.

“We are all thrilled about joining forces and we welcome Jefferson National associates to the company,” says Kirt Walker, Nationwide Financial president and chief operating officer. “This partnership allows for growth in ways that our companies couldn’t have achieved individually and complements our strong brokerage distribution channel.” 

The move makes Jefferson National a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nationwide. For now, the current leadership will remain intact and the companies expect no immediate changes to their sales processes.

Related: Fiduciary rule likely to reduce retirement advice

“Our vision of building a distribution company that is singularly focused on the unique needs of RIAs and fee-based advisors has truly changed industry perceptions, created a new category of product, and provides a tremendous engine for growth going forward,” says Mitchell H. Caplan, Jefferson National chief executive officer.  

“Nationwide has emphasized that they love what we do, and they want to learn from us and the way we do business with RIAs and fee-based advisors,” adds Caplan. “Together, we’ll have an opportunity to leverage Nationwide’s financial strength and ratings, and offer a far greater range of value-added products and services along the way.”

The acquisition first made waves in September 2016 and came in the wake of the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule. The merger of the two firms would give the insurance-heavy Nationwide a stronghold in the fiduciary world. 

Nationwide CEO Steve Rasmussen said in an earlier statement: “Partnering with the Jefferson National team will enable Nationwide to expand our distribution footprint and meet the needs of investors and retirement savers who want to do business in a fee-based advisor environment after implementation of the DOL fiduciary standard.”

Although the ruling could be in doubt with the Trump administration in charge, and its emphasis on deregulation, it did not slow down the acquisition, only adding to the flurry of M&A activity in recent years.

Consulting firm Devoe & Co. said the number of mergers and acquisitions has been on the rise among RIAs.

“(We) expect the overall trajectory of RIA M&A activity will maintain its upward momentum over the next decade, though the number of transactions may ebb on a quarterly or annual basis,” according to a Devoe report. “Structural changes to the industry on both the sell-side and the buy-side will continue to drive consolidation.”

Related:

M&A among insurers pegged at $200 billion-plus thru 3Q 2015 

Heading off a creeping crisis: exit planning for independent agents & advisors 

M&A activity among insurance agencies hits 8-year high

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