Kitchener, Ont.-based managing general agency (MGA) Financial Horizons Inc. is embarking on further growth in Western Canada, with an agreement to acquire Alberta-based MGA Optio Financial Facilitators.

The two firms have signed letters of intent to join forces, in a transaction that would see Financial Horizons purchase 100% of the shares of Optio Financial Facilitators, in exchange for cash and shares in Financial Horizons’ parent company, Granite Global Solutions. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2013.

Optio was established in 2002. It operates primarily in Alberta, providing service to independent advisors through offices in Calgary and Edmonton.

Once the deal is complete, Financial Horizons will have more than 6,000 advisors, over $4.5 billion in segregated fund assets, and in excess of $300 million of life premium in force.

The news comes just three months after Financial Horizons announced the acquisition of Winnipeg-based Audis Canada Ltd., another MGA with a strong presence in Western Canada.

“This acquisition is another strategic step in the growth of Financial Horizons as the leading MGA in Canada,” said John Hamilton, president and CEO of Financial Horizons. “This allows us to further expand our position in Western Canada and importantly, provide direct service and support to advisors affiliated with our recent Western Canada acquisitions – Audis Canada and Optio Financial Facilitators.”

Stuart Broughton, president of Optio, will be appointed vice president of sales, reporting to Dan Powell, president of the Western Canada division of Financial Horizons, once the acquisition is complete.

The management team, office locations and staff of Optio will essentially remain unchanged, and on a day-to-day basis, it will be “business as usual” for the firm’s advisors and clients, the companies said. For the immediate future, it will continue to operate under the Optio Financial Facilitators brand.

“We’re thrilled to join such a strong MGA and to have the support for our advisors and staff,” commented Broughton. “This is a great opportunity for all of the Optio staff and advisors, and it further strengthens our position and relationships with the life companies. Our philosophy of providing a competitive balance of product, service and compensation to our advisors will be enhanced by the extensive resources that Financial Horizons brings to the table. This is great news for our staff and advisors.”

To support the growth that Financial Horizons is pursuing, the company also announced on Tuesday that it recently hired two new executives. Marc Lantaigne has joined as chief financial officer, and Patricia Ziegler has joined as chief operating officer. Both report directly to Hamilton.