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UBS Americas Posts $17.2B in Fee-Based Asset Flows

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What You Need to Know

  • The bank's wealth management business in the Americas had a 23% year-over-year jump in pretax profits to $487 million
  • Its advisor headcount of 6,335 represents a decline of 161 from a year ago but a gain of 30 from year-end.
  • Like rival Morgan Stanley, UBS took a hit from the default of the investment firm Archegos.

UBS says its wealth management business in the Americas had a 23% year-over-year jump in pretax profits to $487 million for the first quarter of 2021, thanks to strong growth across advisory, lending, structured products and alternative investments.

Net new fee-generating assets in the Americas totaled $17.2 billion as of March 31, and invested assets in UBS Americas’ wealth unit hit $1.6 trillion in the latest period, up from $1.2 trillion a year ago but flat versus the fourth quarter.

UBS is no longer reporting net new money for its Global Wealth Management business, or the business unit’s regions worldwide, in its quarterly reports. Full-year flows will continue to be included in its annual reports.

Advisor Headcount

The number of wealth advisors in the Americas declined by 161 from last year’s 6,496 to 6,335. But the Q1 figure was up 30 from 6,305 advisors as of Dec. 31, 2020.

Meanwhile, Q1 revenue per advisor grew 9% from a year ago to $1.6 million.

“It was a quarter in which our clients continued to put their trust in us for advice, for solutions, for thought leadership, and our results show the strength of our business,” UBS Group CEO Ralph Hamers said in a brief earnings video posted on the firm’s website.

Archegos Default Damage

During the first quarter, UBS took a hit tied to the troubled investment firm Archegos Capital Management and reported an unexpected $774 million loss for the period overall.

The UBS Q1 results factored in a trading loss “in relation to the default of a single prime brokerage client,” Hamers said, without referring to Archegos by name. “We’re taking this very seriously, with appropriate measures,” he said.

Also affected by Archegos’ fallout, Morgan Stanley reported April 16 that first-quarter profits of $4.1 billion, up 143% from last year. Its wealth management revenue in the quarter rose 47% to nearly $6 billion, with net income up 44% to $1.24 billion.

Total assets in Morgan Stanley’s wealth unit were $4.23 trillion — with $3.35 trillion tied to advisor-led accounts and the remainder in self-directed E-Trade investor accounts.

“Net new assets were $105 billion, which is easily our best ever quarterly flows and concrete evidence of the growth trajectory of this business,” Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said on a call with equity analysts.

Of the firm’s wealth flows, $37 billion were of fee-based assets.

Rival Headcount Data

Notably, Morgan Stanley did not release its total advisor headcount or average 12-month fees and commissions as part of its quarterly financial statement. As of Dec. 31, 2020, its financial advisor headcount was 15,950.

Bank of America’s wealth unit, which includes Merrill Lynch, ended the first quarter with 19,808 advisors, down 585 — or 3% — from a year ago and a drop of 295 — or 1.5% — from the prior quarter’s 20,103, that firm said earlier this month.

These figures include advisors across its Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Bank of America Private Bank and Consumer Investments businesses. BofA declined to break out the number of advisors by business and said it would no longer do so going forward.

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