Executives at the wirehouse broker-dealers tend to focus their public speeches and interviews on how they are cutting costs and raising profits, while staying competitive.
However, a close look at the four firms’ wealth management results shows one clear leader when it comes to average fees and commissions per advisor, a statistic that industry observers keenly watch, in the first quarter of 2014. In addition, this same wirehouse beats rivals on another important metric: average client assets per rep.
As of March 31, financial advisor productivity, or yearly fees and commissions, at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC) was $1.3 million per experienced advisor (advisors who have gone through a roughly 3.5-year practice development training program or were hired as experienced advisors).
Total FA productivity, including those who haven’t finished the training program but excluding those in Consumer Business & Banking and with U.S. Trust, is roughly $1.06 million in the first quarter, up from $1.04 in the fourth quarter of 2013 and $971,000 in the first quarter of 2013. “As of March, 45% of our advisors had 50% or more of their client assets under a fee-based relationship,” the bank said in a statement.
The total level of client assets in Merrill Lynch accounts was $1.95 trillion vs. $1.92 trillion in the prior quarter and $1.81 trillion a year ago, and the group’s revenue for Q1 was $3.76 billion, compared to $3.70 billion in Q4’13 and $3.68 billion in Q1’13.
With some 13,725 reps, average client assets under management at Merrill is roughly $142 million.
Morgan Stanley, Wells, UBS
In the most recent quarter, Morgan Stanley (MS) had 16,426 advisors, unchanged from the prior quarter. These reps had average yearly fees and commissions (or production) of $881,000 — putting them in the No. 2 spot.
Average client assets per Morgan Stanley rep is $118 million.
UBS Wealth Management Americas’ (UBS) advisor headcount is 7,113, down slightly from 7,137 in Q4’13 and up 1% from 7,065 in Q1’13.