5 moves and deals showing the speed of wealth management change

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Talent and capital changes accelerated in the weeks after the Fourth of July holiday, reflecting a lot of churn alongside the growth of registered investment advisors and other wealth managers.

Five separate moves and deals outlined below seemingly have little to do with one another. But under the surface, a theme emerges: there is an increasing speed to the flux among independent wealth managers and those working with them.

The sheer numbers of RIAs and assets under management help explain why the number of deals and moves aren’t slowing from their record pace amid inflation and stock volatility. In 2021, the number of SEC-registered advisory firms surged by 7%, or 926 new RIAs, to reach a new high of 14,806, according to an annual study released last month by the Investment Adviser Association and ComplySci’s NRS. And their AUM jumped by 17% to $128.4 trillion — another record. A different research survey predicted that giant wirehouses like Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley will soon manage fewer assets than independent RIAs and brokerages.

A need for a “more customized and bespoke client experience” led 20-year Merrill veteran executive Jim Dickson to leave the wirehouse to start Sanctuary Wealth, he said in an interview. Breakaway recruiting moves and M&A deals have spread the firm’s footprint to 79 practices with $25 billion in assets under advisement only five years later.

“What I saw was that the business was changing, and that really the future was the independent model, when you look across all the breadth and depth of services,” Dickson said. “Clients are voting with their feet, which has sped up advisors. I dont think they’re going to slow down.”

For a look at the five recent moves and deals, scroll down our slideshow. To see a forecast of where client assets are going in wealth management over the next several years, click here.