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RIA M&A Activity Hit Lows, Highs in Q2

In its second quarter M&A report, Fidelity recorded just three RIA deals in April, yet activity spiked in June, with 14 deals across $20.6 billion in assets.

The second quarter opened with some of the lowest mergers and acquisitions activity in the wealth management space in four years, but by June, activity rebounded significantly to levels seen in 2019, according to Fidelity’s second quarter M&A report.

The custodian recorded just three deals in the RIA space, totaling $1.4 billion in assets, in April, and four deals in May, totaling $1.5 billion in assets. From March to May, Fidelity said there were 10 deals representing $4.1 billion, record-low transaction and AUM totals for any three-month period.

Yet, in June activity spiked, with a total 14 deals happening across $20.6 billion in assets, representing four times more assets than the deals completed in March, April and May.

“I think the increase in the number of deals—and large ones at that—points to renewed energy around M&A after many firms took a pause at the start of the pandemic,” said Scott Slater, M&A specialist and Fidelity Institutional vice president of practice management and consulting, in a statement.

In the first half of this year, 11 RIAs with over $1 billion in assets received minority investments, including Creative Planning, Stratos Wealth Partners and Parallel Advisors.

“The activity that we’re seeing illustrates that the driving forces of M&A, including substantial private capital, succession pressure, and the demand for improved platforms, scale, and talent, very much remain in the market,” Slater said. “Some may have even been magnified by the pandemic, as firms look to grow and scale while navigating new ways of working and evolving investor expectations, and it’s not unrealistic to anticipate continued acceleration of M&A activity.”

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