The momentum for a strong wave of consolidation in the advisory space still seems to be building. Now it's Schwab Advisor Services saying that M&A throughout the industry reached a record level in 2010.
According to Schwab's data, 109 RIA firms changed hands last year, compared to just 70 in 2009.
However, the average firm that sold was slightly smaller than in the previous year, with the typical M&A target reporting $1.43 billion in AUM as opposed to $1.47 billion in 2009.
David DaVoe, who runs Schwab Advisor Services' strategic business development unit, notes that a lot of the upturn in activity was simply due to discussions that had been interrupted by the credit crunch resuming and finally finding a mutually satisfactory conclusion.
Interestingly, he noted that a lot of the action is taking place simply because many RIA principals are getting older and more interested in succession planning.
About half the buyers were other RIAs; the rest were primarily private equity or other holding companies.