Ameriprise Financial (AMP) said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter net income was $298 million, or $1.47 per share, down 23% from $388 million, or $1.80 a share, last year. Operating earnings, though, were $378 million, up 3%.
Total net sales were $2.95 billion vs. $2.67 billion in the year-ago quarter, while operating revenues jumped 8% to $2.8 billion, thanks to “strong fee-based business growth from client net inflows and increased client activity, as well as market appreciation, which more than offset the pressure from continued low interest rates,” the company says.
“We had a very good quarter, and a terrific year,” said Chairman & CEO Jim Cracchiolo in a statement. “Our advisory and asset management businesses are leading our growth. Overall, assets are up significantly across the firm and we have particular strength in our Advice & Wealth Management business, with robust client net inflows and good growth in advisor productivity.”
In the quarter, pretax operating earnings from the Advice & Wealth Management unit and the Asset Management unit totaled $356 million, up 37% from the year-ago period. For the full year, operating earnings from these two businesses were $1.3 billion, up 31% from 2012.
The wealth management unit posted a 36% jump in pretax operating earnings to $162 million, and a 35% increase in full-year operating earnings to $598 million. When its former banking operations are excluded, full-year operating earnings soared 52%.
“Margin expansion continued throughout 2013 primarily from improved advisor productivity, the addition of experienced advisors and market appreciation,” Ameriprise said in its earnings release. Its Q4 pretax operating margin was 14.4 % vs. 14.2% last quarter and 11.8% last year.
Operating net revenues grew 12% year over year to $1.1 billion driven, while total retail client assets expanded 16% to $409 billion.
Wrap net inflows expanded 38% from a year ago to $2.8 billion, and brokerage cash balances improved to $19.6 billion. “The combination of asset growth and strong client activity drove a 14% increase in operating net revenue per advisor, excluding results from former banking operations,” the company explained.
Its total headcount of advisors at year-end 2013 was 9,716—down from 9,767 in late 2012. It now has 2,205 employee advisors versus 2,318 12 months before, and 7,511 independent advisors versus 7,449 in late 2012.