Mazars in employee benefit consultancy expansion

Top 10 accounting firm Mazars has signed a joint venture partnership with retirement solutions provider, The Embark Group, by combining their current activities in the UK employee benefits consulting sector into a single business, as well as an expansion of its financial planning services

The newly combined business, to be called Vested Employee Benefits Ltd, will be owned 51% by Embark and 49% by Mazars and will be consolidated into The Embark Group. The joint venture will be led by Lorraine Olley and Phil Smith of Mazars and Embark, respectively.

Vested will look ‘beyond traditional flexible benefits and auto-enrolment’, Mazars said in a statement. The joint venture will offer services spanning workplace savings, flexible benefits, financial wellness and employee engagement.

The target market will be small and medium sized UK corporates, with 100 to 750 employees, which it feels are poorly serviced by the traditional players and where small employee benefit consultancies do not have the breadth of capabilities and resources that Mazars and Embark can jointly deliver.

Mazars, which was ranked tenth in the Accountancy league table of top 75 firms 2017, will also acquire chartered financial planning business RCL Consultancy Ltd from The Embark Group. The acquisition, for an undisclosed sum, will result in the transfer of a portfolio of high net worth and affluent clients with assets of approximately £300m.

Mazars Financial Planning (MFP), the firm’s existing service providing tailored financial planning advice and wealth management to individuals, business owner-managers and trustees, currently has £770m of assets under management and this deal will take it over the £1bn milestone.

Phil Verity, senior partner at Mazars UK, said: ‘The combination of these transactions continues our rapid growth in the UK financial planning market, a core sector for Mazars in the UK and through Vested we will retain our engagement in the employee benefits consultancy market in a collaboration that greatly increases our chance of material success.

‘Embark and Mazars are a natural fit. We both have a strong focus on our clients, our people, and on delivering innovative, high value solutions to the market.’

Phil Smith, group CEO of Embark, said: ‘It is tremendous to be taking the covers off the growing partnership we have nurtured with Mazars over the course of 2017. I thank RCL Consultancy for its contribution to our group, but pass the business to Mazars knowing the investment in their growth will take a much greater priority than we are able to deliver today.’

Both transactions remain subject to regulatory approval prior to formal closure.

Report by Pat Sweet

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