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Fidelity: M&A Slows to Lowest Level in Four Years

March and April was the slowest two-month period for RIA deal assets since 2016, Fidelity says.

Mergers and acquisitions activity continued to slow in April, with just three registered investment advisor deals representing $1.4 billion in client assets and one broker/dealer acquisition worth $1.5 billion, according to Fidelity’s latest Wealth Management M&A Transaction Report.

The firm said March and April was the slowest two-straight-month period for RIA deal assets under management since Fidelity started tracking activity in 2016, with deals accounting for a combined $2.6 billion. Year to date, the number of RIA deals is down 38%, and AUM is down 33% from the year-ago period. The number of deals in the independent broker/dealer market is down from six to one, and client assets declined from $391 billion to $1.5 billion in that period.

“Serial buyers and bankers indicate that M&A interest remains high with both buyers and sellers and that discussions and due diligence continue forward,” Fidelity said in its report. “However, cultural fit and face-to-face interaction are critical to deal-making, which means negotiations in a time of virtual engagement could lead to limited activity in the second quarter.”

Fidelity also blames an increase in strategic minority investments, including Emigrant’s deals with Stratos Wealth Partners and Parallel Advisors, and Mariner’s deal with Dynasty.

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