QFS expands in the east with acquisition of A.R.C. Financial

By Kate McCaffery | October 21 2014 09:00AM

Work to assimilate business for 50-100 new advisors is “well underway” after Qualified Financial Services (QFS) closed its most recent acquisition – this time of Atlantic region, A.R.C Financial Group.The acquisition of A.R.C. follows QFS’s acquisition of Le Groupe Goldman in January, and of PerformINS Canada, in 2013. The recent addition of those contracted to do business with A.R.C. Financial, brings the number of advisors contracted to do work with QFS, to “well over” 1,000.

Since QFS began operating in the region back in July 2011, success there had the company searching for another regional office, this time in New Brunswick. The acquisition of A.R.C., says QFS CEO, Kevin Cott, was a ‘good fit’ for a number of reasons.

“It really develops us in the region,” he says. “Most people treat the four provinces as one, which is unfair. Even carriers have reps operating out of one office (for the whole region), trying to create relationships that way. The four provinces are different – you can’t provide meaningful support that way.”

Compatible culture

As well, he says the firm’s principal, Ken Cohoon is well respected in the industry, and personally involved in his business, making the firm compatible with the QFS culture. Following that, growth in the region, coupled with A.R.C.’s advisors in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Cornerbrook, Newfoundland – a region where QFS did not operate previously – made the acquisition attractive. A.R.C.’s existing distribution ability also made it a good candidate for quick integration.
Relationship driven

Compared to others who might treat the separate provinces as one regional entity, Cott says the company is making a “heady commitment” to the region, investing in new space, and several new hires to support business development. “The Atlantic is really relationship driven,” he adds. “It’s who they are, and it’s how they do business. We’ve made a commitment to learning the geography, the region and the people.”

Since 2011, QFS has worked, along with a handful of competitors, to consolidate the industry by acquiring smaller entities whose owners want to exit the business, and others seeking an alliance with larger companies, those able to provide the service and monitoring required of MGAs today.

Focusing on “strategic corridors,” or key market territories that include Ottawa, Kingston, the Atlantic provinces, and Quebec, Cott says the company continues to work on other deals as well, and hopes to have further announcements to make by the end of the year.