Not all Mergers and Acquisitions are the Same

Not all Mergers and Acquisitions are the Same

Author Executive Benefits Team
Date May 19, 2022

Mergers and acquisitions continue to shake up and redefine most industry verticals, but not all mergers and acquisitions are the same.

It’s been more than a year since our team, already one of the largest and leading independent executive benefits firms in the U.S., proudly became part of OneDigital. Our objective was to build upon what we had already created, synergistically expanding our team, our capacities, and our offerings. We didn’t make the decision lightly. If it wouldn’t work for our clients, then it wouldn’t work for us, either.

As you read the following commentary from OneDigital’s Chief Growth Officer, Mike Sullivan, you’ll understand why we recognized that at OneDigital, the objective isn’t bigger—it’s better. Better teams, better services, and better outcomes for clients, their employees, and their stakeholders.

Mergers and acquisitions
Chief Growth Officer Mike Sullivan Delivers His Bold Talk at Summit 2022

Does the Freedom to Remain Agile and Creative Top Your List? It Does Ours, Too.

In the context of mergers and acquisitions, I am often asked what makes OneDigital different from other firms in the insurance, financial services, human resources, and PEO verticals. At the highest level, I always make the following suggestion to frame one’s thinking. It is the difference between selling your business and joining a team. I would make the case that these are entirely different outcomes often completely misunderstood by owners and bankers alike. Our focus is the latter, so everything we do is fixated on getting to know owners/teams and understanding the people fit first and foremost. Do we want and believe in the same things. Do we see the world through a similar lens? As people, can we see each other working together, but more importantly, wanting to grab a coffee or beer after work? 

I am a firm believer that words matter. Verbs are action words and give context to the action. Selling is about finality and moving on, definitionally so. Joining encompasses entering the next phase of your future with true partners on a team. It’s about wearing the jersey and believing that life on that team will be better for you and your local squad. I would suggest that the difference between these words in our world represents opposites. I would also make the following statement about many acquirers: they make little to no effort to “own” the verb “join!” 

When I graduated from college, Peter Lynch managed Fidelity’s flagship Magellan Fund, and he made the following comment about investing that stuck with me. 

“A person who owns property and has a stake in the enterprise is likely to work harder and feel happier and do a better job than a person who doesn’t.” – Peter Lynch 

It was not until we started building OneDigital decades ago and sharing equity that I fully understood the true meaning of these words. In 2012, we started sharing equity with partners joining OneDigital. Today, more than 90% of leaders and teams that have “joined” us are still here and thriving. The S&P at the end of 2021 was up approximately 350% during that period. OneDigital’s equity, 1250%. I believe that joining is a better way to build a company of consequence.

At OneDigital, we look for groups that want to join us to achieve something greater – groups looking to rise with the backing of a large, national firm and the freedom to remain agile and creative. If this sounds like something that aligns with the goals you have for your organization, visit to discover the OneDigital difference.


Learn more about all of the customized and comprehensive solutions available through OneDigital Insurance, Financial Services and HR Consulting.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, accounting, legal or tax advice. Any tax advice contained herein is of a general nature. You should seek specific advice from your tax professional before pursuing any idea contemplated herein.

Securities offered through Valmark Securities, Inc. (VSI), a member of FINRA and SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Valmark Advisers, Inc. (VAI), an SEC registered investment advisor. Please refer to your investment advisory agreement and the Form ADV disclosures provided to you for more information. VAI/VSI are separate entities from OneDigital.

Unless otherwise noted, VAI/VSI is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with any other company, agency or government agency identified or referenced in this document.

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