Almost half of RIAs and independent advisors are interested in pursuing a merger or acquisition, but most are a little vague on the details, according to a survey by Dimensional Fund Advisors released Tuesday.

Although nearly half of the firm owners said they were interested in a merger or acquisition over the next two years, 80% of the firms lack a defined M&A strategy, said Dimensional, a global investment firm based in Austin, Texas. The survey included 1,000 independent advisory firms of all sizes.

Among the firms that are considering a change, the largest group, 31%, want to acquire a firm, 21% want to acquire a team, 9% want to merge and 7% want to be acquired. There is a lot of talk about M&As, but not as much action. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they have been contacted by firms interested in mergers or acquisitions, but only 3% of this group had actually moved forward with a deal.

Most of the successful activity has involved firms with less than $50 million in AUM, “which reflects the ongoing focus on partnering with larger, more mature firms to pursue continued growth and solve for succession,” Dimensional said.

The most frequent reasons advisors gave for wanting to make a change were to increase the value of their businesses, to improve economies of scale, to improve cash flows or profits, or to acquire human capital. The average deal requires less than three months to complete, the advisors said. Dimensional explained that acquirers now seem to have developed more precise offerings, and sellers are clearer in setting their goals than they were in the past.

The most common deal breaker was a lack of alignment in investment philosophy or culture between the firms.

“Buyers are looking for evidence of strong organic growth in the firms they are targeting for acquisition,” said Catherine Williams, Dimensional’s head of practice management, in a statement. “Likewise, sellers want to understand how the acquiring firm will enhance services to clients and further their growth objectives.”

The survey also asked participants about their succession plans. The biggest challenge to developing a succession strategy is identifying a suitable successor and determining a time line. “Some firms are turning to an acquisition strategy to find potential next‐generation talent that might provide a succession solution,” Dimensional said.