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12 Best & Worst Broker-Dealers: Q1 Earnings, 2021

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Related: 12 Best & Worst Broker-Dealers: Q4 Earnings, 2020

Most financial services firms with large broker-dealers — 11 out of 12 — reported higher earnings in the first quarter of 2021 versus a year earlier. Eight produced triple-digit earnings growth for the period. 

While one of the 12 broker-dealers regularly included in our quarterly earnings slideshows reported lower year-over-year net income, none reported negative earnings (or a loss).   

These 12 firms and other financial services companies will start reporting their second quarter results for 2021 on July 14.

Many firms benefited from much lower levels of credit reserves than in the year-ago quarter, when such allowances sharply increased due to the start of the coronavirus pandemic and its related shutdowns.

Well Fargo, for instance, says its first-quarter results benefited from a $1.6 billion pretax reduction in its allowance for credit losses, while JPMorgan’s results in the recent period included credit reserve releases of $5.2 billion.

All figures in the slideshow represent year-over-year changes in net income and earnings per share, as well in the number of financial advisors or other reported results tied to wealth management or private banking operations.

Advisor Headcount

Overall, three wirehouse firms — Bank of America (Merrill/Private Bank), UBS (Americas) and Wells Fargo — saw their combined headcount of financial and wealth advisors shrink by 1,833, or 4.4%, over the past 12 months to 39,420 as of March 31.

Morgan Stanley no longer includes the size of its advisor force in its quarterly financial statements.  

Four other large broker-dealers tracked by ThinkAdvisor — Ameriprise Financial, LPL Financial, Raymond James and Stifel Financial — had a total of 38,304 advisors. That’s up 1,680 from a year ago, a 4.6% rise.