RIAs have been busy getting hitched in 2010. The number of mergers and acquisitions completed in the registered investment advisor business through the third quarter of this year is near full-year totals for 2009, according to data from Schwab Advisor Services.

Through September 30, some 70 deals representing $85 billion in assets under management were done, according to Schwab. By comparison, a total of 71 deals representing $103 billion in assets were done in all of 2009.

The pace of dealmaking hasn’t recovered to levels seen in 2008, however, when 88 transactions accounting for $137 billion in assets under management were completed.

Approximately half of all deals through the third quarter of this year involved RIA firms buying other RIA firms, according to Schwab, though that was down about 4 percentages points from last year. Meanwhile, the percentage of M&A deals involving consolidators increased to approximately 35 percent through September 30, up from 30 percent in 2009.

“The market is slowly picking up but it’s still not great,” said Steve Levitt, managing director for Park Sutton Advisors, a New York-based investment banking firm. “We’re still working through buyers and sellers reaching an agreement on price and multiples. It’s gotten tricky because sellers are doing quite a bit better now.”

Nonetheless, Levitt said he expects the M&A rebound to continue into next year.

“Because many people expect market returns not to be so good in years to come,” he said. “Wealth management firms are recognizing that in order to grow their business, they need to make acquisitions.”