From the November 2009 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

November 1, 2009

Numerology: Fewer Assets, More Advisors

Total assets managed by investment advisors shrank in 2008 for the first time since 2003, but despite a nearly 20% drop in assets, the number of SEC-registered investment advisors increased by 2% to 11,257, according to the ninth annual Evolution/Revolution report, which was released on October 2 and is jointly conducted by The Investment Adviser Association (IAA) and National Regulatory Services (NRS).

Total assets under management (AUM) reported by all firms "dropped precipitously to $34 trillion after reaching an all-time high of $42.3 trillion the previous year," the report found.

David Tittsworth, executive director of the IAA, noted in releasing the report that "the vast majority of advisory firms experienced significant declines in assets under management as a result of the financial crisis of 2008." However, he continued, "the investment advisory profession continues to be resilient and we expect that assets will increase as the markets rebound."

Charles Schwab Advisor Services reported that as of September 30, 2009, 50 deals have been completed year to date, representing $60 billion in assets under management acquired. Schwab's numbers, which cover M&A activity throughout the advisor universe, not just among Schwab-affiliated RIAs, showed that as was the case in 2008, investment managers remain the most active buyers of firms, accounting for about 60% of the deals so far in 2009.

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