Managed account assets have eclipsed the half-trillion dollar mark, as a robust rally in stocks and strong account growth bolstered the largely fee-based business.

Assets held in separately managed accounts totaled $456.29 billion at the end of the third quarter of 2003, according to industry trade association Money Management Institute.

That represents a 3% increase from the previous quarter and an 18.5 % pop

The data was compiled through a survey of sponsor firms and their selected professional portfolio management firms.

"Our industry is keeping pace with the general expansion of equity markets this year, and has even exceeded the growth of other investment sectors in comparable periods this year," said Bruce Arrow, EVP, CFO and COO of Rorer Asset Management. Arrow serves as the chairman of MMI’s oversight committee on industry data and analysis.

Some of the biggest sponsor firms include Smith Barney, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Prudential and Bank of New York. Roughly a dozen of the largest players in this space collectively represent 90% of the overall market.

The industry’s average account size rose 12.5% to $236,963 in the second quarter, according to data recorded as of June 30, 2003. Banks and third-party distribution channels have significantly larger accounts than wirehouses and regional firms.

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