With the just completed acquisition of Waterdown, Ont.- based Ten Star Financial Services Inc.’s mutual fund dealer business, expansion-minded Investia Financial Services Inc. of Quebec City widens its footprint in the wealth-management business.

“As the industry [consolidates], opportunities arise for us to continue to expand our scale and operation,” says David Scandiffio, senior vice president, wealth management, in Toronto with Quebec City-based Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc. (IA), which owns Investia.

“The Ten Star deal was a very good fit for [Investia] because it allows us to embrace small entrepreneurs who are full-service financial planners and support them as they continue to build their businesses.”

The deal, which was first announced this past November, sees more than 700 Ten Star advisors join Investia, which previously was home to 1,800 mutual fund reps across Canada. Ten Star’s presence in six provinces will serve to strengthen Investia’s mutual fund distribution platform, says Louis DeConinck, president of Investia, as well as reinforce the firm’s position in the independent advisory channel.

“The Ten Star advisors are in good spirits [about the acquisition] and we’re excited to have them as part of our larger organization,” DeConinck says. “This transaction has been fairly smooth so far, as there haven’t been too many differences between the two platforms.”

Both Ten Star and Investia run off Toronto-based Univeris Corp.‘s back-office system, which has made the conversion process relatively easy, DeConinck says.

The two firms also run similar business models that focus on serving the needs of independent, mutual fund-licensed advisors.

In order to ensure the acquisition went off without a hitch, DeConinck was quick to visit the Ten Star offices in Burlington, Ont., this past autumn.

“Being close to our sales force is at the forefront of what we are doing at Investia,” he says, “so it was important for me to be able to meet with the Ten Star team face to face.”

Running a large national firm, DeConinck knows that leadership is key for advisors. In order to make sure advisors always have someone close by, Investia has four regional sale directors (in different provinces) that help to oversee more than 120 Investia branch offices across Canada. DeConinck has yet to determine whether the Ten Star branches will be merged with Investia’s locations.

Ten Star launched in 1976 and, over the years, grew to become a full-service firm. Led by David Baird, president of Ten Star, the firm includes a mutual fund dealer, Ten Star Financial Inc.; a property and casualty insurance broker, Ten Star Insurance Brokers Inc.; as well as Ten Star Life Insurance Brokers Inc. and Ten Star Group Benefits Specialists Inc.

Ten Star’s mutual fund reps offered services in insurance, investments, financial planning, retirement planning, estate planning, business-protection programs, and property and casualty insurance.

Investia, which has almost $13.3 billion in assets under administration, has been in the financial services business since 1999. Over the years, the firm has been no stranger to big-time mergers and acquisitions. (See sidebar, below.)

As well, because of rising compliance and regulatory costs for mutual fund dealers, several smaller, regional mutual fund dealers have joined Investia.

In a separate but concurrent deal, Investia’s managing general agency subsidiary, National Financial Insurance Agency Inc. (NFIA), acquired Ten Star Life Insurance Brokers Inc. This acquisition has increased the size and scale of NFIA’s life insurance distribution business.

“The bigger you are, the bigger visibility you will have with your clients – and that is a great thing for your brand,” says Sylvain De Champlain, an advisor with De Champlain Groupe Financier Inc., who joined Investia when IA acquired the Quebec-based network of financial advisors from the former DundeeWealth Inc. of Toronto in 2008. “This business is about the confidence your clients have in you as an advisor, and having a larger footprint in the industry will help us become more recognizable.”

IA will continue to look at potential acquisitions that can help the firm grow across Canada, Scandiffio says, adding that Investia’s parent firm is looking to devote at least $500 million toward expansion.

“At the top of our list is wealth-management acquisitions,” he says. “We certainly see, in the short term, the opportunity being in the advice-distribution channel.”

IA has several financial advisory firms within the parent firm, including: Vaughn, Ont.-based FundEx Investments Inc.; Toronto-based Leon Frazer and Associates; and T.E. Wealth Financial Consultant Inc. and Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (both based in Montreal).

“The core of our business has been serving the mass affluent across the country,” Scandiffio says, “and that’s where we will continue to see opportunities arise – as well as in the high net-worth space.”

Investia no stranger to acquisitions

Investia Financial Services Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quebec City-based Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc. (IA), now has almost $13.3 billion in assets under administration (AUA). Since Investia’s inception in 1999, the firm has been active in growing through several acquisitions, including:

1. Groupe Financier Concorde Inc.

Investia acquired Quebec City-based Groupe Financier Concorde in 2001.

As a result of this deal, Louis DeConinck joined Investia, to which he was appointed as president in 2008.

2. Global Allocation Financial Group Inc.

Investia beefed up its presence in Western Canada when the firm acquired Regina-based Global Allocation Financial in 2003.

3. AEGON Dealer Services Canada Inc.

In 2008, IA completed the acquisition of National Financial Corp., the parent company of AEGON Dealer Services Canada Inc., Money Concepts (Canada) Ltd. and managing general agency (MGA) National Financial Insurance Agency Inc. (NFIA). Through this deal, Investia acquired AEGON Dealer Services and its affiliated network, Money Concepts. NFIA became a subsidiary of Investia; the MGA is home to more than 700 independent financial advisors across Canada.

4. DundeeWealth Inc.

The firm acquired the Quebec network of financial advisors from DundeeWealth in 2008. Prior to this acquisition, Investia was managing more of its AUA outside Quebec, DeConinck says.

5. Ten Star Financial Services Inc.

In 2014, Investia acquired Waterdown, Ont.-based mutual fund dealer Ten Star Financial. In a concurrent deal, NFIA acquired Ten Star Life Insurance Brokers Inc., which increased the size and scale of NFIA’s MGA life insurance distribution business significantly.

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