Bank of New York Co. said Monday that it has an agreement to acquire Stanwich Benefits Group Inc., an employee benefits specialty firm based in Purchase, N.Y., for an undisclosed amount.

The deal would bring Bank of New York 250 clients and $1 billion of assets under administration.

Bank of New York said it hopes to use Stanwich to expand its defined- contribution-plan services to middle-market companies.

"This acquisition allows us to round out our product offerings," said Joseph M. Velli, Bank of New York's executive vice president of securities processing.

Mr. Velli said Stanwich's benefits consulting practice and actuarial services would add a missing dimension to Bank of New York's defined- contribution business.

Bolstering record-keeping services with consulting services has been popular in banks. In December, Mellon Bank Corp. announced it had an agreement to buy Buck Consultants Inc., the nation's oldest benefits consulting firm.

"It's definitely part of the continuing evolution toward vertical integration in banks," said Geoffrey Bobroff, an independent consultant in East Greenwich, R.I. "These businesses earn more money by bringing in fee income."

Stanwich, which has 55 employees, would become a division of Bank of New York and assume its defined-contribution-plan business, Mr. Velli said.

The bank declined to disclose the size of its 401(k) plan business or how many customers it serves.

Bank of New York, which has $58 billion of assets, has traditionally served smaller defined-contribution plans-those with 50 to 100 participants, said Mr. Velli. The acquisition of Stanwich would bring a middle-market client base. "We will be able to support plans of up to 2,000 participants," Mr. Velli said.

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