Securities brokerage income for bank holding companies reached almost $6.9 billion in first quarter 2009, up 45% from $4.7 billion in first quarter 2008.

According to the Bank Securities Brokerage Income Report from Michael White Associates, Radnor, Pa. the large increase was primarily due to Federal Reserve approval of bank holding company applications from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley.

The approvals landed the 2 firms in the top ranks of BHCs with securities operations. The leading BHC in securities brokerage income in the first quarter remained Bank of America Corp., Charlotte, N.C., with $1.5 billion in income, followed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., New York, with $1.02 billion in income from securities brokerage units, and Morgan Stanley, New York, with $1.01 billion in income.

So far this year, 56.3% of large BHCs engaged in securities brokerage activities, according to the report.