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Fidelity Launches New M&A Tools for RIAs

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Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services (FIWS) announced Thursday a new set of services for RIA firms that are thinking about mergers or acquisitions to grow their practices.

“Given what we’re seeing from clients and hearing in the industry, these tools, we think, are quite powerful to diagnose whether they’re ready to engage in [an] acquisition,” FIWS EVP David Canter told in an exclusive interview.

Canter, who heads FIWS’s Practice Management for RIAs, says they hear from RIA clients that “growth is a priority right now, and they’re looking to grow because of three reasons: where the industry is—a graying of the industry; the economy; and the market is at a point where they’re seeing opportunities and, there may not be opportunities for what had been organic growth.”

The enhancement to the Fidelity Practice Management Program will help ensure that “firms have a well-defined business strategy. To be successful with an expansion strategy you have to have your own house in order,” Canter notes. The new tools include white papers, a “self-assessment checklist” and a “case study featuring a hypothetical RIA firm looking to make an acquisition,” he explains. There are also “seven interactive worksheets that provide advisors the opportunity to participate in the same detailed planning and gap analysis completed in the hypothetical case study,”according to the news release.

In addition, FIWS can introduce RIA firms that are interested in buying another firm—or being acquired—to other firms that could be a match, or to the M&A firms that worked with FIWS on the new tools, Canter says.

And what about the drive from wirehouse to RIA? The B-D to RIA trend continues, according to Canter, and has  “accelerated since the crisis,” as more advisors follow the ‘trend toward the independent model.”

See related article about the “Uptick in Brokers Moving to Independence.”