M&A activity within the wealth management industry remains strong, with more transactions of a larger size at the start of this year.

Fidelity released its January 2018 Wealth Management M&A Transaction Report, which examines M&A activity among RIAs and independent broker-dealers.

The report finds that M&A transactions in the first month of 2018 decreased slightly from the same period last year. However, total assets increased threefold.

According to the report, January 2018 saw 13 transactions involving $21.5 billion in assets under management. This is more than three times greater AUM than the 16 transactions made in January 2017, which had assets totaling $6.6 billion.

For comparison, in January 2016, there were 12 transactions with assets totaling $9.6 billion.

The start of the year also brought a return of strategic acquirers such as Focus Financial Partners, which the industry hasn’t seen since October of last year.

Five of the 13 transactions in January involved strategic acquirers. There were only six strategic acquirers in the last six months of 2017.

Fidelity expects M&A activity to remain strong in 2018.

Industry influencers at Fidelity’s recent M&A Leaders Forum in Boston agreed that “we are likely to see accelerating consolidation this year,” according to Fidelity. 

Fidelity’s Wealth Management M&A Transaction Report seeks to capture merger and acquisition deals involving: wealth management firms registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as RIAs; breakaway advisors and/or advisory teams who are leaving a financial institution to join a wealth management RIA; and independent broker-dealer firms registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

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