Interviewed by The Insurance and Investment Journal, Jim Burton, Executive Chairman and CEO of PPI, said PPI began the search process for a buyer early in 2017 with private equity firms and began discussions with some last summer. However, after 40 years of building PPI, Burton says he and the other PPI leaders decided it was important to choose a home that was more in line with the firm’s values. This led them away from investment firms and they began discussions with insurers last fall. The sale to iA Financial Group was announced today.
They chose iA Financial Group for various reasons. Access to capital was a part of it, but so was product vision. Commitment to independence was another factor. “We had already had a good experience with them in designing and distributing product (its product Equibuild) and iA was very clear they were looking for a completely independent entity.”
PPI’s leadership team, including Burton, Jim Virtue and John McKay will remain intact. All employees will also remain, said Burton.
However, iA has has authority over PPI’s board. Jim Burton is a member of this board along with iA executives.
In addition to understanding the importance of independence, iA also “understood the importance of relationships with other insurance companies,” said Burton, noting that PPI is a leading distributor with all insurers.
A long-term home
“On a personal note, PPI is my baby. I started the company 40 years ago,” he said underlining that this makes it very important to him that there be stability for the people who work with the firm. “Advisors and employees know they have a long-term home that will still be there when the PPI leaders leave someday,” he said.
He added that PPI’s advisors have reacted quickly and positively to the news.
“We are passionately for the rights of the independent advisor. The basic premise is threefold: Insurance can be used as an effective vehicle for more sophisticated markets; independent life insurance advisors are key to distribution and PPI has a role to play in them differentiating themselves.” These premises will continue to be followed, he says.
Business as usual
What would he say to those who are concerned about the sale of PPI to an insurer and its independence? Burton says the test will be going forward. They will see it is business as usual, that they still have the same access to insurers, services, etc.