When SunTrust Banks acquired CSI Capital Management in May, the deal underscored a realization spreading across the banking sector: buying RIA firms is a reliable channel for growth.

The Atlanta-based bank did not disclose terms of the CSI Capital Management purchase, but the deal added $1.5 billion in client assets from the San Francisco-based wealth management firm to its own.

“It is a…viable strategy and one we see growing,” Kim Dellarocca, head of practice management at Pershing said in a telephone interview. Acquiring RIA firms can give banks an additional channel to market their products and boost their value in the eyes of investors.

Pershing Advisor Solutions and Schwab Advisor Services, two of the industry’s largest custody and operational service providers, recently released figures on mergers and acquisitions for the second quarter.

In the second quarter, there were seven M&A deals involving RIA firms totaling $8.5 billion, according to Pershing’s figures, released on Tuesday. The firms acquired in the second quarter had a median of $800 million in assets under management, twice the median amount of assets that changed hands in the first quarter. Also, almost half the purchases included RIAs with more than $1 billion in assets.

Schwab, too, noted several large deals in the second quarter. Its round-up found 27 M&A transactions involving RIAs, which represented approximately $20.8 billion in total AUM acquired. The average deal had $770 million in AUM, according to Schwab. 

“Buyers like banks or consolidators tend to go after the larger RIAs,” David DeVoe, managing director of strategic business development for Schwab Advisor Services said in a telephone interview. “It takes just about the same amount of time and energy to acquire a $200 million firm than an $800 million firm.”

There were deals that did not involve banks, notably Horizon Asset Management’s bid for Kinetics Asset Management. After that deal is complete, the combined investment management firm will have $9.8 billion in client AUM, according to Pershing.

Schwab changed its method for tallying the M&A deals, DeVoe said. It will focus on firms that serve high-net-worth retail investors, predominantly, and firms with at least $50 million in AUM. Also, new roundups will include breakaway brokers from wirehouses who received monetary consideration for joining an RIA.