With the stock markets (generally) on a tear, broker-dealers have been reporting record results.
Which group has more money?
Morgan Stanley advisors have about $2.37 trillion in client assets — up 13% in Q4’17 from a year ago vs. $2.31 trillion at Merrill Lynch, which had a 10% year-over-year jump in assets.
But when assets at US Trust are combined with those of Merrill, the Bank of America Global Wealth & Investment Management group, the unit has some $2.75 trillion (which also represents a 10% jump from the year-ago quarter).
Which group has more advisors?
Morgan Stanley has 15,712 advisors vs. 14,953 at Merrill Lynch. If Merrill’s consumer banking/Merrill Edge advisors — which number 2,402 — are included, its ranks swell to 17,355. It also has 1,714 US Trust registered reps.
Merrill says its advisor force grew by 231 from a year ago, while its Thundering Herd decreased by one from the third quarter. Morgan Stanley, though, says its headcount fell 51 from the prior year and 47 from the earlier quarter.
How about average fees and commissions?
Morgan Stanley’s advisors have 12-month trailing production of $1.12 million as of Dec. 31 vs. $1 million for Merrill’s Thundering Herd. But Merrill also shares the performance of its veteran advisors (which excludes the production of the roughly 3,000 reps in its training program): $1.31 million in Q4’17.