The financials of broker-dealers had a mixed year in 2015, to say the least. The top four broker-dealer firms on this list saw their year-over-year profit growth soar; some even doubled their 2014 net income. Profits at our fifth-ranked firm grew a measly 3.9%, while the rest of the firms suffered shrinking profits.

The biggest independent broker-dealer, LPL Financial (LPLA), was one of the firms that had a tough year. It reported a 45% decline in fourth-quarter profits, citing slow broker sales and weakness in alternative investments as the stock market fell.

LPL’s stock fell 34% in February after the earnings report, bottoming out at $16.50. Shares have recovered to about $25 — still down steeply from $42.65 at year end — and shareholders are suing, claiming the firm misled investors to boost stock prices while executing a $250 million share buyback plan that benefited a key private equity investor.

(To see how the firms did in the fourth quarter, check out 10 Best & Worst Broker-Dealers: Q4 Earnings, 2015.)

The real loser, though, was RCS Capital (RCAPQ), the parent company of the Cetera network of 10 broker-dealers. Still struggling to shake off the effects of an accounting scandal in late 2014, the firm was embroiled in a proxy voting scandal late in the year. The firm shut its once-lucrative REIT wholesale unit in December and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January. Cetera will become a private firm under RCAP’s reorganization plan with the bankruptcy court.

(On Monday, RCAP announced it had filed a prepackaged reorganization plan, complete with retention packages for Cetera advisors, that it expects to complete by May.)

Read on to see how 10 players in the brokerage and wealth-management business fared for 2015:

WORST BROKER-DEALER

Goldman Sachs headquarters in NY. (Photo: AP)

10th Place

GOLDMAN SACHS (GS)

2014 Net Income:  $8.48 Billion
2015 Net Income:  $6.08 Billion

Profit Change for Year:  Down 28.3%

Stock Price Start 2015:  $195.30
Stock Price End 2015:  $180.23

JP Morgan Sign on a building in NYC. (Photo: AP)

9th Place

JPMORGAN CHASE & CO. (JPM)

2014 Net Income:  $24.44 billion
2015 Net Income:  $21.75 billion

Profit Change for Year:  Down 11%

Stock Price Start 2015:  $62.18
Stock Price End 2015:  $66.03

Mark Casady, CEO of LPL Financial.

8th Place

LPL FINANCIAL (LPLA)

2014 Net Income:  $178 million
2015 Net Income:  $169 million

Profit Change for Year:  Down 5.1%

Stock Price Start 2015:  $44.84
Stock Price End 2015:  $42.65

Paul Reilly, CEO of Raymond James Financial.

7th Place

RAYMOND JAMES FINANCIAL (RJF)

2014 Net Income:  $502 million
2015 Net Income:  $480 million

Profit Change for Year:  Down 4.4%

Stock Price Start 2015:  $57.68
Stock Price End 2015:  $57.97

John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo. (Photo: AP)

6th Place

WELLS FARGO (WFC)

2014 Net Income:  $23.06 billion
2015 Net Income:  $22.89 billion

Profit Change for Year:  Down 0.74%

Stock Price Start 2015:  $56.24
Stock Price End 2015:  $54.36

Ameriprise Financial Headquarters in Minneapolis.

5th Place

AMERIPRISE FINANCIAL (AMP)

2014 Net Income:  $1.56 billion
2015 Net Income:  $1.62 billion

Profit Change for Year: Up 3.9%

Stock Price Start 2015:  $132.98
Stock Price End 2015:  $106.42

James Gorman, CEO of Morgan Stanley. (Photo: AP) 

4th Place

MORGAN STANLEY (MS)

2014 Net Income:  $3.47 billion
2015 Net Income:  $6.13 billion

Profit Change for Year:  Up 76.7%

Stock Price Start 2015:  $39.05
Stock Price End 2015:  $31.81

Sergio Ermotti, CEO of UBS. (Photo: AP)

3rd Place

UBS GROUP (UBS)

2014 Net Income: $3.5 billion 2015
Net Income:  $6.4 billion

Profit Change for Year:  Up 82.9%

Stock Price Start 2015:  $17.05
Stock Price End 2015:  $19.37

Michael Corbat, CEO of Citigroup. (Photo: AP)

2ndPlace

CITIGROUP (C)

2014 Net Income:  $7.31 billion
2015 Net Income:  $17.24 billion

Profit Change for Year:  Up 135.8%

Stock Price Start 2015:  $54.36
Stock Price End 2015:  $51.75

BEST BROKER-DEALER

Brian Moynihan, President and CEO of Bank of America. (Photo: AP)

1st Place

BANK OF AMERICA (BAC)

2014 Net Income:  $4.83 billion
2015 Net Income:  $15.89 billion

Profit Change for Year:  Up 229%

Stock Price Start 2015:  $17.99
Stock Price End 2015:  $16.83

 

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