Assets under management in separately managed accounts jumped 1.2% in the third quarter, according to figures released Monday by the industry’s top lobbyist association.

The third quarter report by the Money Management Institute also estimated that assets in SMAs have grown 7.2% to $535 billion since the start of the year. And as assets in SMAs have grown, so has interest in them. Attendance at the industry’s annual Solutions Conference, held last week in New York, was up 13% according to MMI, even after a record-breaking turnout in 2003. A September bank conference held by MMI in Dallas received a record turnout as well.

Christopher Blunt of New York Life Investment Management said that demographics and increasing awareness have helped the SMA industry grow as quickly as it has, from just over $400 billion in 2000 to its current clip. He called the growth "continued and sustained."

Since the beginning of 2001, membership in MMI has jumped 90%, and different types of financial services firms are entering the fray. According to Arlen Orlansky, the MMI’s associate director for membership, more insurance and banking firms are getting involved in SMAs now.

"We’ve seen robust growth in the number of industry players as the assets under management have grown," Orlansky said.

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