For the first quarter, Bank of America said the total number of financial advisors rose to 17,512 from 17,308 in the prior quarter and 15,797 in the year-ago quarter. Average trailing 12-month production, or fees and commissions in the quarter, were $905,000 per advisor, up from $881,000 in the fourth quarter of 2011 but down from $1,005,000 in the first quarter of 2011.

The Global Wealth and Investment Management unit, which includes the Merrill Lynch and Merrill Edge advisors, had net income of $547 million, which was slightly above last year’s figure and up sharply from $257 million in the fourth quarter.

Revenue for the unit dropped to $4.4 billion, an increase from $4.2 billion in the prior quarter but down from $4.5 billion a year ago. Merrill reps produced about $3.7 billion in sales for the unit. Client assets stood at roughly $2.2 trillion, with $1.84 billion managed by Merrill Lynch advisors.

Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley reported that its advisor force dropped 2% from last quarter and 5% from last year to 17,193, while total assets under management hit nearly $1.75 trillion, a jump of 7% from the previous quarter and a 2% increase from last year. (It had 17,512 advisors in the fourth quarter of 2011 and 18,124 in the first quarter of 2011.)

These reps produced average trailing-12-month fees and commissions of $787,000 and managed average client assets of $101 million; these figures were both up about 5% from the same year-ago period.  

Morgan Stanley’s global wealth-management business, which includes the MSSB joint venture, reported net revenue of $3.4 billion. Its pre-tax profit margin of 11% was up slightly from a year ago and from the previous quarter.

Net income, which excludes Citi’s 49% stake in the MSSB venture, was $193 million, up 5% from last year and a jump of 45% from the previous quarter.

“This quarter is further evidence that Morgan Stanley has rebounded from the financial crisis of 2008 and is in a significantly stronger position,” said Chairman and CEO James P. Gorman, in a statement. “Revenues of $8.9 billion, excluding the impact of [the $2 billion debt valuation adjustment], were higher on both a year-over-year and a quarter-over-quarter basis.”

As for the wealth-management unit, “We are intensely focused on completing the transition of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney to the new, state-of-the-art technology platform this summer,” Gorman said.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo saw a rise in assets and a drop in both financial advisors and income. The wealth, brokerage and retirement unit includes 15,134 financial advisors as of March 31. This figure is down 1% from last quarter and from last year, and includes 10,987 advisors in the traditional brokerage channel.

Client assets including deposits for the full unit were $1.4 trillion, of which $1.2 trillion are part of the retail-brokerage operations, a 6% increase from the previous quarter. Wealth, brokerage and retirement had net income of $296 million, a 5% drop from the earlier quarter and a 14% decline from the year-ago period.

Revenues for the unit grew 1% from 4Q, and excluding a gain from the sale of H.D. Vest in the fourth quarter, jumped 6%, the company said, thanks to higher retail brokerage asset-based fees, transaction revenues and securities fees.

Managed-account assets grew 10% from last quarter and 11% from last year, driven by strong net flows and market performance.


UBS said Wealth Management Americas had a record pre-tax profit jump of 34% to $209 million vs. last year, as net new money more than doubled from the previous quarter to $4.6 billion; it was $3.9 billion a year earlier.

Net new money in the Americas unit, which is led by Bob McCann, including income from interest and dividends — a measure widely used by other wirehouse firms — was $9.3 billion vs. $8.6 billion in the earlier quarter and $8.5 billion a year ago.

The number of UBS advisors in the Americas rose to 7,015 as of March 31 from 6,967 on December 31 and 6,811 a year before.

The advisors had total client assets of $851 billion in the first quarter of 2012 vs. $795 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011 and $818 billion in the first quarter of 2011.