The third quarter of 2012 brought 10 merger/acquisition deals in the RIA space, accounting for $6.13 billion in AUM, according to data compiled by Charles Schwab, which tracks RIA industry activity. For the year to date, the total is 35 deals, accounting for $42.34 billion -- almost as much as the full-year total of $43.88 billion in 2011.
Although the number of deals is on track to be slightly lower than the average for the preceding five years, the final number will likely be "in the ballpark," says Jon Beatty, senior vice president for sales & relationship management at Schwab Advisor Services.
More interesting, Beatty says, is the big change in the type of buyer in this year's deals. National acquiring firms have accounted for a whopping 54% of all deals this year. That's up from 30% last year and from an average of 37% over the past five years.
RIA firms, meanwhile, dropped to 20% of all buyers for the year to date, down from 44% in 2011.
"We see lots of advisors shifting their model and coming into the RIA space," says Beatty. "These national acquiring firms" -- he cites firms like HighTower, Focus Financial Group and United Capital -- "have set up a platform to help that trend, and are having a great deal of success helping these brokers transition."