Alois Pirker, an analyst at Aite Group LLC, a Boston research and consulting firm, says, "What's happening in the market right now is that, on all levels, there is a little shifting of market share."

"Some folks are getting stronger that have used the crisis to beef up, and others that weren't as lucky-and the capital situation is probably a good reason for it-are actually having troubles," he says.

Some broker-dealers have run into problems selling private placements that later turned out to be fraudulent. In one case, a court-appointed trustee last month sued more than 45 broker-dealers, several of which are now shut, to recover at least $251 million in damages plus interest and seek the return of all commissions received for the sale of Provident Royalties LLC private placements. The deal, which supposedly involved oil and gas royalties, was later exposed as an alleged fraud. The broker-dealers "permitted a massive financial injury to take place to debtors and thousands of individual investors," the suit says.

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