As Wells Fargo (WFC) on Wednesday, July 21, beat second-quarter estimates on lower sales and profits, it saw the ranks of its advisor force move into the number three spot, despite rising year-over-year assets and sales in its wealth-management and brokerage businesses.

Assets managed by Wells Fargo Advisors increased 6% from a year earlier to $1.1 trillion, while the larger wealth, broker and retirement unit saw its total assets hit $1.2 trillion – down from $1.3 trillion in the first quarter of 2010, but up from $1.1 trillion last year.

The number of its financial advisors stood at 15,102 in the second quarter, which – according to Reuters – was down 4% from the previous year.

This puts it behind Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s 18,087 and Bank of America-Merrill Lynch’s 15,142.

Wells Fargo’s combined wealth, brokerage and retirement operations – which include almost 5,100 licensed bankers – earned $270 million in the second quarter, up 5% from a year earlier, as total revenue rose 2% to $2.87 billion, according to the company.

The bank also said that managed-account assets for its retail brokers grew $36 billion, or 22%.

On July 20, Wells Fargo said its fund unit completed the merging of the fund families of Wells Fargo & Co. and the former Wachovia Corp., now collectively known as Wells Fargo Advantage with some $224 billion in assets.