RBC Dain Rauscher is continuing its recent streak of acquisitions, part of an effort by Canadian parent Royal Bank of Canada to build a bigger presence in the lucrative U.S. wealth management market. Dain announced today plans to acquire Ferris, Baker, Watts (FWB), a full-service broker/dealer in Washington D.C.

The acquisition, to be completed by mid-year, adds an additional 330 advisors and $18.5 billion in assets under management to RBC Dain, the Royal Bank of Canada’s U.S. Wealth Management arm, which currently employs over 3,600 reps.

The deal marks one of several acquisitions for RBC Dain in the last year. In 2006, RBC Dain expanded in the U.S. through a number of purchases including: Flag Financial Corporation of Atlanta; Carlin Financial Group of New York; Daniels & Co. of Denver; and American Guaranty & Trust of Wilmington, Del. And in March 2007,the firm expanded its stake in the east coast with the acquisition of Parsippany, N.J.-based J.B. Hanauer, a privately-held, employee-owned financial-services firm specializing in retail fixed-income and wealth-management services. The purchase added about 150 reps, some $10 billion in client assets, and a greater presence in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida, where J.B. Hanauer houses its five offices.

The Royal Bank of Canada, which bought Dain in 2000, is clearly looking to increase its presence in the U.S. wealth management space. In addition, Canada’s biggest bank plans to merge RBC Dain Rauscher with another of its U.S. offspring—New York-based RBC Capital Markets, its institutional b/d, to form RBC Wealth Management this year.

“FBW represents a strong strategic and cultural fit for the U.S. wealth management business of RBC, and will significantly expand our presence in the Eastern, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions—all important markets for us,” said John Taft, president and CEO of RBC Dain Rauscher—the RBC subsidiary into which FBW will ultimately be absorbed. The goal, Taft adds, is to become a nationally recognized wealth management firm. (Click here to read what Taft says about his firm’s acquisition strategy.)

To read more about RBC Dain Rauscher’s transformation from Midwest regional to national wealth management firm, click here.