RIA Consolidation Numbers Prove Controversial, But Activity Keeps Chugging Along


In all, RIAs were involved in 57 big deals last year, moving an average of $798 million in AUM apiece.


Last year printed 70 deals and the average transaction that Schwab tracked was bigger, representing an average of $895 million per firm being bought out.


Some say this represents a slowdown in the pace of industry consolidation. Others say it's business as usual.


And since Schwab tinkered with its methodology this time around, year-to-year comparisons may be tricky at best.


Maybe the biggest thing this reveals is that there's still a lot of room for consolidation left throughout the business.


If there are -- as reported -- 1,200 firms that collectively hold 80% of the assets in the channel, they're still getting bought out at a rate of 4% to 5% a year.


And a lot of these giants don't work with retail clients at all. 


Schwab used to track institutional RIAs and hedge funds in their M&A stats. Having them in the mix dramatically distorted the way the numbers reflected the typical retail advisor's world.


For example, in 2010, the old methodology showed 55% more deals and a staggering 147% more AUM in play for an average deal of roughly $1.43 billion.


Does the typical retail RIA that gets bought out have $1.43 billion in AUM? Not really -- and this was never true in the first place. 










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