The first job I had was working as an ERISA attorney for a small law firm that was affiliated with a third party administrator (TPA) called CBIZ Retirement Services, Inc. Let’s just say that CBIZ wasn’t much of a moneymaker, so that block of retirement plan administration was sold to a TPA called Bisys and I was going to be out of a job. I did get a new job before the deal and transition was completed, but Bisys didn’t have the best reputation when it came to the retirement plan business.
Bisys knew they didn’t have a great reputation, so they changed their named to Ascensus and I have seen firsthand their commitment to quality plan administration. They say leopards can change their spots, but Ascensus did. They have become a quality big time provider and they deserve the credit for turning it around.
I was surprised and not that surprised when I found out that Ascensus bought Kravitz. Kravitz has a strong reputation for their cash balance plans and if there is a missing niche for Ascensus, it would probably be cash balance plans when combined with 401(k) plans. This transaction is what we have been seeing for years, consolidation in the marketplace and any big time 401(k) plan provider needs to realize that a balance forward/defined benefit plan practice is something they need to have because it’s a possible solution for plan sponsor. If a TPA doesn’t have the right solution for plan sponsors, then plan sponsors usually find the TPA that has all the possible solutions under one roof.