Financial Horizons acquires Estate Financial

Kitchener, Ont.-based Financial Horizons Group, one of Canada’s largest managing general agencies (MGAs), has formed a new alliance with Calgary-based exempt-market dealer (EMD) Pinnacle Wealth Brokers Inc. that will enable advisors at both firms to enhance their product offerings.

The new reciprocal referral relationship will enable Financial Horizons’ insurance brokers to help their clients access private capital market opportunities through Pinnacle. Meanwhile, Pinnacle advisors who are licensed in life insurance will be able to conduct their insurance business through Financial Horizons, gaining access to the tools and support offered by that firm.

The alliance helps Financial Horizons expand its scope of financial offerings, says David Stewart, its executive vice president of sales.

“With increasing consumer demands and sophistication, we want to make sure that we’ve got a good range of quality products on the shelf to help meet the needs of all Canadians,” he says.

Financial Horizons expanded from insurance into investments in 2015 with its acquisitions of two mutual fund dealers: Perth, Ont.-based Certika Investments Ltd. and Sherbrooke, Que.-based Excel Private Wealth. Excel operates as an EMD as well, but only in Quebec.

The new alliance with Pinnacle enables Financial Horizons advisors throughout the rest of Canada to cater to clients who are interested in private market investments by referring them to a Pinnacle advisor with the appropriate licensing.

“This will be a way for us to help fulfill those clients’ needs internally, without [them] having to go to another institution,” says Stewart.

For Pinnacle — an EMD with 130 advisors — the alliance with Financial Horizons’ network of more than 9,000 advisors brings significant growth potential, according to Darvin Zurfluh, Pinnacle’s CEO, who says there’s growing interest in private market investments among both insurance and mutual fund advisors.

“The potential is huge,” Zurfluh says. “For us to double our business in one or two years, the potential is there.”

More than half of Pinnacle’s advisors are licensed in life insurance and they can conduct their insurance business through any MGA of their choice. Pinnacle operates an associated general agency, Pinnacle Wealth Planning, which, under the new alliance, will now channel all of its business through Financial Horizons.

As a result, insurance advisors who choose to conduct their business under the new alliance will still operate under the Pinnacle Wealth Planning brand. However they’ll have access to the resources and support available through Financial Horizons.

Those who opt to do their insurance business through Pinnacle Wealth Planning will benefit from running their business under one brand, Zurfluh notes, and large producers will be eligible for equity in the company.

Pinnacle had been seeking an MGA to partner with for some time, Zurfluh says.

“The bottom line for Pinnacle is that it allows us to stay focused on the private market,” he says, “and it will let [Financial Horizons] do what they’re good at on the insurance side.”

Pinnacle plans to grow its insurance arm considerably under the new alliance with Financial Horizons; its goal is to have 300 insurance advisors operating under Pinnacle Wealth Planning in the next three years.

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