A trifecta of statistics from Charles Schwab shows that the market remains fluid for advisors on the move when it comes to changing channels, M&A activity and management buybacks of advisory firms.

In September, Schwab Advisor Services saw a record 25 advisor teams with $2 billion in assets under management go independent and custody their assets with Schwab.

During the third quarter, 52 advisor teams went independent with Schwab, or 30% more than in the year-earlier period. That's also 37% higher than this year's first quarter and 44% greater than the second quarter.

Elsewhere, Schwab reported there have been 50 merger and acquisition deals among RIA firms this year through the end of September. These firms had roughly $60 billion in assets. But there's some viscosity mixed in with that fluidity, given that M&A activity this year is on pace for only about 66 deals, down from last year's 88 deals. And if deal activity maintains its present pace, it would be the fewest number since the 58 deals done in 2006.

In addition, the average AUM for firms doing deals is also down--$1.2 billion as of this year's third quarter versus $1.6 billion for all of last year.

Finally, RIAs are on pace to set a new record for management buybacks of advisory firms, according to Schwab Institutional's chief of merger advice, David DeVoe.

But breaking that record isn't tough to do, though. Since Schwab started tracking M&A statistics on management buybacks in 2005, the previous record was four; so far in 2009, there have been five.

But the real story is the number of acquired RIAs who are entertaining thoughts or are approaching their corporate parents or other financial institutions about repurchasing their firms.

"Part of this is an indication of the growing sophistication of RIAs looking to capitalize on decreased valuations [of RIA firms]," DeVoe says. "With the industry going through structural change, it's time for some [acquired firms] to look at the strategic fit."