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Ascensus enters plans to acquire Goldleaf Partners

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Ascensus, with a large presence in east Brainerd, announced it purchased Goldleaf Partners, which has offices in Baxter along Golf Course Drive. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

Two businesses, with offices in Brainerd and Baxter, reported they will be now operating under one umbrella as Ascensus reports it is acquiring Goldleaf Partners.

Ascensus -- which provides technology and expertise to help millions of people save for retirement, education, and healthcare -- entered into an agreement to acquire Goldleaf Partners, a third-party administrator that provides retirement administration and fiduciary, employee benefits, payroll integration, consumer-directed health, and COBRA services to a diverse set of clients across the country.

The firm will immediately become part of the FuturePlan by Ascensus line of business.

In a phone interview, Jerry Bramlett, head of FuturePlan, said Ascensus has been acquiring firms of this type for several few years -- almost 30 firms -- and Goldleaf will fit into the larger structure with FuturePlan, a rapidly growing group. Bramlett praised Goldleaf's reputation in the marketplace and the company's innovation and strong capabilities. No financial details were disclosed.

The goal is to create, from all of these disparate firms, a single national firm, Bramlett said, so the combined company can take advantage of opportunities of scale with additional capital and marketing, which helps midsize firms like Goldleaf grow.

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Ascensus' FuturePlan has about 1,300, over 100 employees from Goldleaf. Bramlett said they were not planning layoffs with the acquisition and instead he said he feels certain the company can engage those employees and give everyone an opportunity within the organization. Bramlett said he sees job growth opportunities in the Brainerd area.

Bramlett said FuturePlan is kept in a separate location from Ascensus.

"I would just reemphasize our commitment to Brainerd as our place of growth," Bramlett said of Ascensus' dedication to growing in this community with a lot of opportunity in a fast growing organization, including future job growth.

Bramlett said the organization is committed to retain a local presence in its markets and wants to have people in the local markets. Growing the company provides a way to have a balanced approach in terms of strength in size.

The organization works with major players in the industry such as Vanguard, Mutual of Omaha and State Farm and is the sole record keeper for the states of California, Oregon and Illinois for state retirement.

Some of the biggest challenges in the industry include cyber security.

Bramlett said the company's focus is on retirement savings, setting up plans for savings and records, saving for education, health and for retirement. He said there is a tremendous amount of awareness in younger workers for retirement needs now with baby boomers entering retirement who are coming up short. Without the former safety nets, employees are more self-reliant and that has been a big shift and millennials are conscious of the need to save and to save early.

Bramlett said there is absolute growing awareness to have these savings programs.

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For the future, Bramlett said use of technology, robo advice and use of robotics is going into engaging with people to provide information to give them precise recommendations on how to invest their money and where they are compared to their target goals. He said artificial intelligence and robotics are broadening the employee experience and making it easier to use.

He said their vision of the company is being a facilitator and helping other businesses, other than being a direct competitor to them.

Headquartered in Bloomington, Goldleaf Partners’ business and services model helps clients concentrate on their core business by reducing their administrative task load.

"It delivers superior service by developing client-centric relationships, exceeding expectations, and deploying innovative solutions. Goldleaf Partners services clients nationwide and is committed to providing dedicated support that addresses each client’s unique needs," Ascensus reported in a news release.

“Goldleaf Partners is well-known for excellence and expertise in employer services,” Bramlett stated in a news release. “Their 100+ highly skilled professionals—along with their reputation for innovation and unparalleled service—will be welcome additions to FuturePlan.”

“We strive to be our clients’ most engaged and responsive partner so that they can focus on managing and growing their businesses,” says Michael King, Goldleaf Partners’ founder and chief executive officer. “New and existing clients of Goldleaf Partners can rest assured in the knowledge that, as part of FuturePlan, we’ll put them and their objectives first so that we can continue to deliver the best service experience possible."

“In Goldleaf Partners, Ascensus is acquiring a well-respected and dynamic TPA that provides a highly desirable combination of services,” says Raghav Nandagopal, Ascensus' executive vice president of corporate development and M&A. “The firm embodies the qualities we look for as we continue to execute on our growth strategy: a market-leading reputation, favorable geographic footprint, and solid leadership team combined with a strong company culture and an unrelenting dedication to servicing its clients.”

About Ascensus

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Ascensus is the largest independent record keeping services provider, third-party administrator, and government savings facilitator in the United States. The firm delivers technology and expertise to help millions of people save for what matters most—retirement, education, and healthcare. For more information about Ascensus, visit ascensus.com . View career opportunities at careers.ascensus.com .

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