Harris Exits EB Biz, Turns to Wells

March 29, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Plan sponsors will have one less provider option going forward, as Harris Trust has told clients it is selling its traditional employee benefit business.

Harris is transferring that business to Wells Fargo Bank, effective June 1, 2004, according to a client communication obtained by PLANSPONSOR.com .   The letter cites “considerable consolidation” in the retirement marketplace in recent years, and acknowledges that “scale has become a critical factor,” by way of explaining the rationale behind the move.  

Harris Trust did not return phone calls about the pending transfer, and Wells Fargo was unable to comment meaningfully on the transfer prior to the June 1 effective date, according to a company spokeswoman.

The move will reportedly impact some 200 clients with some $1.4 billion in assets.   The Harris client communication also references a transfer of Harris employees to Wells, though particulars regarding how many and how were not outlined.

Harris’ decision is hardly without precedent.   Last year a number of providers folded their tents, or opted to rely on new partnerships to deliver these services, including US Bank’s decision to hire out its recordkeeping to BISYS, Wachovia’s acquisition of PFPC’s recordkeeping and third-party servicing business, as well as Wachovia’s more recent pickup of BONY’s business (see  Wachovia Picks Up BoNY’s DC Recordkeeping, Trustee Offerings ) as well as Hewitt’s acquisition of Atlanta-based Northern Trust Retirement Consulting (NTRC) (see  America’s Top Recordkeepers ).