Ross Epstein – NFP

NFP attorney ushers in ‘crown jewel’ acquisition

From the time he could barely see over the counter at his father’s hardware store in New Jersey, Ross Epstein remembers working with customers, learning the joys and pains of running a small business.

Years later, Epstein is still taking these lessons to heart, channeling his father Allan’s approach at New York City-based NFP—a national insurance broker and consultant. As a senior vice president and associate general counsel, Epstein’s responsible for running the mergers and acquisitions legal team which closes more than 40 acquisitions annually.

Ross Epstein - NFP

Despite disruption from COVID-19, 2020 was one of NFP’s biggest years—including one of its largest acquisitions ever. Growing during the pandemic wasn’t easy, but Epstein credits NFP’s success with its investment in its “people-first culture”—something that’s earned NFP recognition from the publication Business Insurance four years consecutively as one of the best places in insurance to work.

“NFP’s growth is largely driven by acquisitions and NFP has been extremely lucky to find incredible businesses to acquire that align well with our culture,” says Epstein. “My father would always remind me of the famous Thomas Jefferson quote—‘I’m a great believer in luck, and I find that the harder I work, the more I have of it.’”

All about relationships

Epstein began his legal career working on M&A at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and brought that specialty to NFP in late 2013.

Just prior to joining NFP, Epstein was on the Skadden team that guided NFP through a sales process taking it from a publicly traded company to a private company backed by Madison Dearborn Partners. The transaction brought a new mandate—a focus on increasing the number of acquisitions and integrating the newly-acquired businesses.

“In some respects, we acted like a startup, except that we were a 15-year-old company with a market cap of $1.3 billion,” says Epstein.

At the heart of NFP’s operations is an entrepreneurial culture, which he says resonates with its acquisition prospects. Interestingly, nearly all of the acquisitions involve sellers who continue to be part of NFP after closing.

“The sellers aren’t just looking for the highest price; they’re looking for a world-class platform where they can continue to grow their business after closing and, at the same time, establish a great home for its employees,” he says.”

Ross Epstein - NFP

Epstein views himself and the other members of NFP’s M&A team as brand ambassadors. For many sellers and employees of an acquisition prospect, the deal process is their first true introduction to NFP.

“We’re not looking to just get a deal closed and move on,” Epstein says. “Instead, we’re entering into a partnership and want to make the process as smooth as possible.”

To do that, Epstein draws on his first-hand knowledge of small businesses and relationships that he developed in his father’s hardware store, and later from his experience of owning an IT consulting business that he founded in high school.

Worth the wait

The crown jewel of NFP’s recent M&A is the acquisition of Rose & Kiernan in August 2020—a best-in-class general insurance agency founded in 1869.

The team started working on the transaction prior to the arrival of COVID-19. When the pandemic hit, they had to do something they’d rarely done—hit pause.

Ross Epstein - NFP

“With the uncertainty in the world, the decision was made to put everything on an indefinite hold,” says Epstein. “That’s where good relationships come in. It’s rare that the parties actually return to the table after pressing pause, but we believed in the acquisition and kept in touch. There was some give and take, but we ultimately reached a deal, which is a credit to the leaders on both sides.”

Epstein says the transaction was the hardest deal yet in many ways: it was a premium valuation, involved the greatest number of employees, and required coordination with hundreds of shareholders and an employee stock ownership plan. It was further complicated by late nights working remotely, hundreds of pages in documentation and aggressive timelines.

“When it was done, everyone shared in the excitement,” he says. “Completing this acquisition enabled NFP to expand in the property and casualty space with a premier business that’s complementary to what we do, adding scale and capabilities to our brand.”

Like father, like son

Looking back, Epstein says he has always enjoyed hard work, especially when it’s complicated.

At 14, Epstein founded a boutique IT consulting business that he ultimately sold. Always a tinkerer, he started helping people in the neighborhood with their computers and, by age 16, started working for small businesses setting up computer networks and point-of-sale systems.

Ross Epstein - NFP

As his business grew, so did the sophistication of his clients and the problems they needed solved—his largest client was a surgical center that was going paperless and needed the ability for the medical professionals to access patient records from its satellite offices. Back then, one of Epstein’s biggest challenges was transportation— as a 16-year-old, he was too young to get a driver’s license, so his mother would drive him to business appointments.

“My mom was not only my chauffeur, but my biggest supporter and best salesperson by proudly telling her friends about my business,” Epstein says.

His efforts helped fund his degree in finance from the University of Delaware and later his J.D. from the Boston University School of Law.  Epstein also received numerous academic and entrepreneurial awards and scholarships in recognition of his business success.

Beginning in 2011, Epstein gained big league legal experience as an associate at Skadden.

“My goal at Skadden was to work on the most interesting deals with the smartest people in order to get the best experience,” he recalls. “I loved my time there and wasn’t ready to leave, but when the opportunity at NFP came about, it was a once-in-a-lifetime position for someone who loves M&A.”

Passionate about his work, he says he certainly has gotten his fill at both Skadden and NFP, though, despite the long hours, he has always made time for the most important thing in his life: his family. During the pandemic, he and his wife Amanda welcomed Eli, a little brother for their daughter, Peri. So, amidst the enormous challenges presented by COVID-19, a silver lining has been and spending more time with his family while working from home.

“NFP is a wonderful place to work, which is essential to me,” says Epstein. “It’s a company that takes a personal interest in making my family part of their family.”

Published on: March 22, 2021



Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.


I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.
The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.
It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.


Summer I 2024



  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.