Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
The acquisition, which is expected to close by June 30, would be Mercer Investment Consulting's second this year, following its purchase of Hammond Associates on Jan. 3.
For the current deal, Mercer found itself working in cooperation with Callan Associates, which will buy Evaluation Associates' U.S. public defined benefit business — accounting for 10 of about 115 clients served by the firm.
Mercer announced in October it would exit the U.S. public fund arena, resigning accounts with a combined $240 billion in assets under advisement, in the wake of lawsuits filed against the firm's actuarial consulting affiliate by public fund clients.
In an interview Thursday afternoon, Gregory C. Allen, Callan's president and director of research, said public funds are an important segment at Callan, responsible for between 30% and 40% of total business, but his firm only moved forward on the Evaluation Associates opportunity after concluding that its Northeast U.S.-based consultants had the capacity to take on those new clients.
Milliman spokesman Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson declined to comment.
Bryan R. Decker, a principal, managing director and chief investment strategist with Evaluation Associates, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
In an interview Thursday afternoon, Mr. Schutes said Evaluation Associates' diversified base of roughly 105 clients would help Mercer further its goal of increasing its share of key U.S. market segments, including corporate defined benefit and defined contribution plans, endowments and foundations, and wealth management.
As of March 31, Evaluation Associates' combined assets under advisement, including its public DB clients, came to roughly $200 billion.
The latest news cements Mercer's status as a leading consolidator in the U.S. investment consulting sector.
Mr. Schutes said his firm remains committed to becoming the predominant player in the fragmented U.S. investment consulting market, with “space between us and the second (biggest) player.”
In February 2009, the company sought to reach that goal with one giant step when it announced it would acquire Callan, but the deal was abruptly called off a little over a month later. Mercer and Callan executives have refused to say why they walked away.
The move by both firms to acquire different segments of Evaluation Associates' business suggests that the failure of the Mercer-Callan deal left no hard feelings.
Callan's Mr. Allen said the mutual respect the two firms retained for each other following their merger discussions left the door open for the cooperation that led to Thursday's joint deal. After Mercer decided to exit the public DB business, executives there had suggested the possibility that working together could provide a less disruptive means of pursuing future consolidations, and the Evaluation Associates situation came up fairly quickly — a little over a month ago, he said.
Mr. Schutes refused to rule out the possibility that the “alliance” between the two could play out again as looming generational changes at consulting boutiques and the need for ever more resources to compete put more firms in play.
Asked whether Mercer has some target in mind with regards to a share of the U.S. investment consulting market, Mr. Schutes said the most widely used yardstick — assets under advisement — might prove less relevant with Mercer's withdrawal from a U.S. public DB segment characterized by fees that pale in comparison to the assets in play.
By other measures — whether it be in terms of the number of clients or industry revenues — Mercer is shooting for a market share of 20% to 25%, Mr. Schutes said.
If past acquisitions are a guide, Mercer can look forward to the vast bulk of Evaluation Associates' clients welcoming the added resources Mercer can bring to the table, Mr. Schutes said. They would lift the overall number of Mercer's clients to around 600, he said.
Asked about Evaluation Associates' 48 employees, Mr. Schutes promised a “thoughtful, very transparent” integration process, with the hope of announcing a new organizational structure perhaps 90 days after the close of the deal.
Mr. Schutes said the synergies that have resulted from Mercer's acquisition of Hammond Associates have quickly become apparent, with that U.S.-focused endowments and foundations specialist able to compete for opportunities abroad — in markets such as Saudi Arabia and Singapore — that Hammond wouldn't have been positioned to pursue on its own.