Embark Group and Mazars have consolidated their employee benefits businesses - to be renamed 'Vested' - while Mazars will acquire financial planning firm RCL Consultancy from Embark.
The newly combined business will be owned 51% by Embark and 49% by Mazars and, as such, will be consolidated into the Embark Group. The joint venture will be directly led by Embark chief executive Phil Smith (pictured) and Mazars partner Lorraine Olley.
Vested will offer workplace savings, flexible benefits, financial wellness and employee engagement, with solutions offered digitally where possible.
The target market will be small and medium-sized UK corporates, with 100 to 750 employees, which the group feels may have been poorly serviced by the traditional players and where "small employee benefits consultancy do not have the breadth of capabilities and resources Mazars and Embark can jointly deliver".
Through the consolidation, Mazars is to acquire Embark's financial planning business RCL Consultancy. The acquisition, for an undisclosed sum and subject to Financial Conduct Authority approval, will result in the transfer of a portfolio of high net worth clients with assets of approximately £300m.
Mazars Financial Planning currently has £770m of assets under management so this deal will take it beyond the £1bn milestone, as it looks to expand its financial planning presence.
Embark said the deal left it with no conflicting presence in the UK IFA market, its primary distribution channel for bespoke pension, platform administration and investment consulting solutions.
Embark chief executive Phil Smith said: "It is tremendous to be taking the covers off the growing partnership we have nurtured with Mazars over the course of 2017.
"It is essential we develop our business efficiently and swiftly to compete in this space - combining our strengths with the SME advisory skills and distribution power of Mazars turbo-charges our growth potential.
Smith added: "At the same time, I thank RCL Consultancy for its contribution to our group but pass the business to Mazars knowing the investment in their growth will take a much greater priority than we are able to deliver today."
Mazars senior partner Phil Verity said: "The combination of these transactions continues our rapid growth in the UK financial planning market - a core sector for Mazars in the UK - and, through Vested, we will retain our engagement in the employee benefits consultancy market in a collaboration that greatly increases our chance of material success."
"Embark and Mazars are a natural fit. We both have a strong focus on our clients, our people and on delivering innovative, high-value solutions to the market."
'Greater reason' for market pullback
Can be rewarding
Former Jelf MD to join in January
Bigger impact than Lifetime ISA