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People's United Bank to acquire $3B RIA

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People's United Bank is looking to grow its wealth management business in New York.

The Connecticut bank on Thursday announced that it plans to buy Gerstein Fisher, a New York City-based RIA with $3 billion in assets under management.
The acquisition is expected to boost the wealth management group's assets under management to roughly $8 billion and bring its total assets under administration to about $21 billion, People's United said.

At the end of the first quarter, People's United posted $5.6 billion in assets under management and $10.4 billion in assets under administration, according to the bank's first-quarter earnings release.

In addition to increasing client assets, People's United Wealth Management will be able to expand its product offerings and strengthen its presence in New York, a market with strong growth potential, the bank said.

"Gerstein Fisher has excellent investment capabilities and a terrific track record. Many of their strategies and mutual funds, such as their real estate strategies, complement our offerings nicely," said Galan Daukas, head of People's United Wealth Management.

Gerstein Fisher has about 12 advisers and a centralized investment management team that employs a proprietary approach to structuring portfolios, Daukas explained. He lauded Gerstein Fisher's quantitative investment approach, saying its "scalable technology-enabled platform" will help round out People's United products and services.

Although the acquisition is the bank's first wealth management acquisition in almost two decades, the bank has been actively buying insurance brokers and regional banks in an effort to grow its fee income businesses, Daukas said. In April, for example, it purchased Eagle Insurance Group, a Massachusetts insurance brokerage firm, and in June announced plans to buy Suffolk Bancorp, a Long Island, N.Y.-based bank holding company.

People's United's proposed acquisition follows Johnson Bank's recent purchase of Cleary Gull Advisors, a $2.1 billion RIA firm based in Milwaukee.

Read more: Johnson Financial Group to buy Cleary Gull Advisors

As part of the deal, Gerstein Fisher will retain its own name and remain in the same office location. "We will continue to operate under the same names and offices we both use today," Daukas said.

The bank declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal.

The firm's founder and CIO, Gregg Fisher, will join People's United as head of Qualitative Research and Portfolio Strategy.

"We're very excited to join forces with People's United, as both companies share similar cultures, outstanding client relationships and strong investment performance," Fisher said in a statement. "We believe that our investment strategies, combined with People's United large distribution network, will allow us to help more people invest smartly to achieve their goals than Gerstein Fisher could have on a standalone basis."

The transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2016, pending customary approvals and consents, including the consent of Gerstein Fisher clients.

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