First Niagara Risk Management Increases Presence in Pennsylvania With the Acquisition of Banyan Consulting, LLC

- First Niagara announces third insurance subsidiary acquisition in Pennsylvania within the past four months in support of the $21-billion, 257-branch bank's footprint in Upstate New York and Pennsylvania -

Dec 01, 2010, 11:01 ET from First Niagara Financial Group, Inc.

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 1, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- William R. Hartz, Lawrence M. Cooney, Scott J. Fair, and Lisa M. Rand, the founders of Banyan Consulting, LLC, announced that their Pennsylvania business has been acquired by First Niagara Financial Group, Inc.'s (Nasdaq: FNFG) insurance subsidiary, First Niagara Risk Management (FNRM).  Banyan Consulting, LLC provides risk management, employee benefits consulting and investment services.  

First Niagara Risk Management is already one of the nation's largest insurance agencies and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Buffalo, NY based First Niagara Bank.  First Niagara Bank has 257 branches across New York and Pennsylvania with over 4,000 employees.  The Bank has a regional market center office in Pittsburgh, 59 branches and nearly 1,500 employees across the state.  First Niagara's acquisition of Banyan Consulting, LLC is First Niagara's third personal and business insurance acquisition in Pennsylvania within the past four months, following the acquisitions of RTI Insurance Services, Inc. and Three Rivers Financial Services, Inc. in Western Pennsylvania in August 2010 and Summit Insurance Group Inc. and Summit Benefits, LLC, in Eastern Pennsylvania in November 2010.

"This acquisition solidifies our commitment to continue to expand our business through organic growth and selective acquisitions of high-performing insurance agencies within our two-state footprint.  As a top 50 U.S. broker and the ninth-largest bank-owned agency, we are committed to continuing to focus on providing broader services and products for our clients, greater opportunities for our employees, and an expanded commitment to our communities," First Niagara Risk Management Chief Executive Officer Joseph Teresi said.  "With our recent acquisitions of RTI Insurance Services, Inc. and Three Rivers Financial Services, Inc. in Western Pennsylvania and Summit Insurance Group Inc. and Summit Benefits, LLC, in Eastern Pennsylvania, combined with today's announcement of our acquisition of Banyan Consulting, LLC, we are moving forward with our strategic plan to build our organization throughout our footprint."

Hartz, Cooney, Fair, and Rand, who founded the firm, will assume leadership positions for First Niagara Risk Management. In their leadership roles, they will focus on growing the First Niagara brand through continuing to build our insurance presence while working closely with the banking side of the house to deliver the First Niagara comprehensive financial solutions value proposition.

Terms of the acquisition, which closed on December 1, were not disclosed  

With the acquisition of Banyan Consulting, LLC, FNRM will have over 380 employees and more than 13 offices in two states.  Its Upstate New York offices are in and around Buffalo, Rochester, Ithaca, Syracuse, Albany and Hudson.  Its product lines include personal and commercial insurance, surety bonds, risk management, employee benefits and administration and life, disability and long-term care coverage.

First Niagara Risk Management's $43.9 million in 2009 brokerage revenues generated by U.S.-based clients made it the nation's 50th largest broker and the ninth-largest bank-owned insurance agency, according to Business Insurance magazine. First Niagara Risk Management has also been recently named as part of an elite group of independent insurance agencies around the United States participating in the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big "I") "Best Practices" Study Group.  Only 224 independent agencies out of 27,000 throughout the U.S. qualified for this honor.

About First Niagara Financial Group

First Niagara Financial Group, Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., has $21 billion in assets, 257 branches and $13 billion in deposits. First Niagara Bank is a multi-state community-oriented bank with about 3,800 employees providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses. Upon completion of its pending merger with NewAlliance Bancorp, Inc. -- subject to customary closing conditions including approvals from regulators and shareholders -- First Niagara will have more than $29 billion in assets, $18 billion in deposits and 340 branches across Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For more information, visit


Leslie G. Garrity

Public Relations and Corporate Communications

(716) 819-5921

SOURCE First Niagara Financial Group, Inc.