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Principal Completes Acquisition of Wells Fargo's Retirement & Trust Business

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Principal Financial Group has completed its acquisition of Wells Fargo’s institutional retirement and trust business, which had close to $830 billion in assets under administration as of the end of last year. Now begins an 18-month transition period to “seamlessly integrate” the Wells Fargo business, says Renee Schaaf, Principal’s president of retirement and income solutions.

As a result of the acquisition, which was announced last April and cost $1.2 billion, Principal will ultimately double the size of its U.S. retirement business, expanding its reach into mid- to large-size retirement plans to serve a total 7.5 million retirement plan participants in 56,000 plans.  (The firm has historically served small- to midsize businesses).

(Related: Wells Fargo Agrees to Sell Retirement Unit for $1.2 Billion)

The acquisition also allows Principal to branch out into the institutional trust and custody services for the non-retirement market, primarily family offices and endowments, and to expand its discretionary asset management offerings.

The acquisition also “brings scale” for recordkeeping services and access to an experienced team of professionals at a time when the industry consolidating, Schaaf said.

For advisors and the consultants that work in the retirement plan space, Principal’s purchase of Wells Fargo’s retirement services will provide access to a broader range of clients, ranging from very small to the large plans regardless of the complicity, said Schaaf. She anticipates the integration “will bring the best of both platforms forward.”

As of the first quarter, Principal had $675.4 billion in assets under management. Its retirement and income solutions business oversaw $229 billion, primarily in defined contribution plans, managing 62% of those assets.

In addition to retirement and income solutions, the company has three other business lines: U.S. insurance, global investing and international pension and long-term savings, primarily for the emerging markets.