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Ameriprise Headcount Down Amid Record Profitability

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Ameriprise Financial’s advisor headcount was down by 27 during the third quarter and down 54 from a year ago, driven primarily by a decline in the firm’s employee advisors. But overall, the firm’s advice and wealth segment had a strong quarter, contributing to overall record operating earnings of $392 million, up from $289 million a year ago.

Advisor headcount was 9,761 at the end of the third quarter, down from 9,788 in the second quarter and 9,815 in the year-ago quarter. But the firm added 86 experienced advisors in the quarter.

Overall, the firm’s net income was $381 million, or $1.86 per share, up from $174 million a year ago, beating analysts’ expectations by $0.14. Operating net revenues were up 7 percent from a year ago to $2.7 billion, driven by net inflows, increased client activity and market appreciation, the firm said.

Revenue growth was driven by the firm’s advice and wealth management and asset management segments, which account for over 60 percent of Ameriprise’s total revenue, the firm said. Despite the impact of lower interest rates, operating net revenues in advice and wealth grew 16 percent from a year ago to $1.1 billion, excluding former banking operations. Pre-tax operating earnings were $153 million, up 49 percent from a year ago if you exclude the former bank operations.

“The growth in this segment was generated by solid business fundamentals, including growth in client assets, good transaction levels, as well as market appreciation,” said Walter Berman, chief financial officer.

Advisor productivity stayed flat from last quarter at $110,000, but was 16 percent higher than the year-ago quarter. Client assets grew 13 percent year over year to a record $389 billion, while total wrap assets were up 19 percent to $144 billion. 

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