Fidelity Investments helped 146 individual brokers and teams managing $12 billion in assets go independent last year, the company announced today.

"While the absolute number of brokers going independent seems to have normalized to pre-crisis levels, we continue to see an increase in the number of large teams with bigger books of business making the transition," said Michael R. Durbin, president of Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, the nation's second largest RIA custodian.

Fidelity said the average assets per breakaway in 2010 were approximately $83 million, a nearly 50% increase over 2009. Of the 146 breakaways, 22 had assets of more than $250 million, including Sapient Private Wealth Management, an affiliate of the Focus Financial Partners Connections program, and U.S. Capital Advisors, a new independent broker-dealer that National Financial, Fidelity's clearing business, supported as it was established.

Over the past few years, Fidelity has helped more than 600 brokers move their businesses from wirehouses to an independent model, Sanjiv Mirchandani, president of National Financial.