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Fifth Third pursues expansion of insurance business without chief

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Fifth Third Bank on Wednesday completed the acquisition of Epic Insurance Solutions, a Louisville, Kentucky-based insurance agency, without the executive hired to grow the bank's insurance business.
Howard McClure was recruited in January 2016 to evaluate alternatives to expanding the bank's insurance offerings and build out a more "holistic insurance strategy," the bank said in its press announcement.

But as of last month, he was gone, having joined First United Bank as president of First United Insurance.

His loss, however, has not undercut the bank's strategy to bolster its insurance business. The acquisition of Epic Insurance Solutions will "enhance its insurance capabilities" and "provide value-added products and services to help clients with their most pressing financial and risk management challenges," Greg Carmichael, Fifth Third's president and CEO, said during the bank's third-quarter earnings call.

Epic Insurance Solutions provides commercial and personal property insurance as well as casualty and employee benefits services. It recently acquired Integrity HR, a human resources consulting and outsourcing service firm with offices in Kentucky and Indiana.

Because of Epic's acquisition of Integrity, Fifth Third would "also enter the employee benefits and human resources consulting business," where it sees an opportunity to "grow and bring tremendous value to business, commercial, and wealth and asset management clients," Mike Michael, head of the bank's Wealth and Asset Management group, said.

Don Thompson, president of Epic Insurance Solutions, along with two other principals of the agency, will continue to lead the insurance organization, while the founder of Integrity, Amy Letke, will direct the human resources consulting practice for the combined firms.

The acquisition follows the bank's purchase of R.G. McGaw, a Cincinnati-based insurance agency, in March, when McClure headed up the bank's insurance services business.

The acquisitions are part of a three-year plan to increase fee income and "deliver strong, consistent returns through longer-term economic cycles," the bank said.

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