Two dozen mergers and acquisitions were conducted during the first quarter among firms for registered investment advisory, the highest quarterly total since Schwab Advisor Services started keeping track of the data in 2003. "Many RIA principals are now re-engaging in the negotiations they'd stopped 18 months ago," said David DeVoe, an executive at Charles Schwab. "M&A was put on the back burner and activity stalled as the market decline distracted advisers from deals they might have done."

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