The wealth management space saw 203 deals in 2019, setting a record for the seventh year in a row, according to a new report.
Last year’s mergers and acquisitions activity in wealth management was 12.2% higher than in 2018 and represents a 15.4% annual growth rate over the past five years, Echelon Partners says in its report.
Strategic buyers such as Focus Financial and Mercer Advisors were behind much of the deal volume, but private equity shops and large financial institutions were the ones making the largest deals, according to the report.
Among the biggest deals of the year were Charles Schwab’s $26 billion acquisition of TD Ameritrade, the acquisition of Kestra Financial by private equity firm Warburg Pincus, estimated at $600 million to $800 million, and the purchase of Advisor Group by private equity shop Reverence Capital Partners, estimated at $2.3 billion, Echelon Partners says.
Echelon Partners attributes the unabated growth in the number of wealth management transactions to structural forces, with firms opting for consolidation rather than independence.
“Larger firms benefit from cost savings, have improved resources to invest in the latest technology, and have an easier time recruiting talent,” according to the report.
Echelon Partners also recorded 655 breakaways in 2019, which was 21.7% higher than in the prior year.
The firm that added the most assets from breakaways was Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, which added $19.8 billion in 2019, followed by Raymond James Financial Services, which added $18.6 billion, according to the report. The biggest losers were Wells Fargo Clearing Services, which lost $70.3 billion in assets, and Morgan Stanley, which lost $24.5 billion, Echelon Partners says.