BofA CEO Brian Moynihan. (Photo: AP) Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan. (Photo: AP)

Bank of America beat estimates, with third-quarter net income rising 32% from last year to roughly $7.2 billion, or $0.62 per share, as revenue improved 4% from the year-ago quarter to $22.8 billion. Its overall lending activities and deposits grew slightly, as net charge-offs declined.

“Responsible growth, backed by a solid U.S. economy and a healthy U.S. consumer, combined to deliver the highest pretax earnings in our company’s history,” according to BofA Chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan.

“Our high-tech, high-touch approach continues to drive both client satisfaction and efficiencies,” Moynihan explained. “More than 3 million users have accessed Erica, the industry’s only AI virtual assistant, since its April rollout, and nearly a quarter of deposit transactions this quarter were performed on a mobile device.”

Wealth Results

The bank’s Global Wealth and Investment Management unit — which includes Merrill Lynch — had its “second-best quarter in history,” it says. Total revenue for the full unit grew 4% year over year to about $4.8 billion, while Merrill Lynch revenue rose 3% to $3.9 billion.

GWIM’s pretax margin was 28%, and net income increased 31% from a year ago to $1.01 billion.

Client balances for the full unit were $2.8 trillion as of Sept. 30, a 6% jump from a year ago. Average loan balances grew 5% year over year to $162 billion, thanks to residential mortgages and custom lending.

Merrill Advisor Headcount

The number of Merrill Lynch advisors is 14,838, up 18 from the prior quarter but down 116 from the prior year, which the firm says is “a result of a continued focus on bringing the highest quality candidates into our training program — more so than on volume.”

Average annual fees and commissions for veteran advisors are $1.35 million, while for all advisors this figure is $1.04 million.