UBS Wealth Management Americas (WMA) crossed the threshold in the first quarter with a string of new records: pretax profit of $251 million, net new money of $9.2 billion, and invested assets of $891 billion. The pretax profit, annualized, say analysts, puts UBS WMA on pace to generate $1 billion yearly, CEO Bob McCann’s goal when he took the reins of the business in October 2009.
Still, lower fee income from mutual and annuity fund sales in the first quarter took a bite out of higher transaction revenues and a lower loan loss allowance. UBS WMA’s latest quarterly revenue of $1.737 billion, though up 11 percent from $1.568 billion a year ago, compares with $1.745 billion in the previous quarter. FA productivity, or revenue per financial advisor, consequently, dipped two percent, from just above $1 million in the fourth quarter to $984,000.
The brokerage unit of Switzerland’s largest bank, nonetheless, reported record invested assets per advisor of $126 million. That’s a five percent gain from $119 million in the fourth quarter, and a jump of 10 percent from $115 million a year ago. (Revenue per UBS WMA advisor was $897,000 a year ago.) UBS WMA also expanded its ranks of advisors, slightly, in the first quarter, to 7,065 FAs, a net gain of six.
UBS WMA still leads its peers in broker productivity. According to data provided by UBS, revenue per advisor is $971,000 at BofA Merrill Lynch; $851,000 at Morgan Stanley and $687,000 at Wells Fargo.
Alois Pirker, an industry analyst at the Aite Group, describes UBS WMA’s quarterly performance as solid. “This was a very good period for WMA,” he told REP. “It was, of course, also a good period for wirehouses with the markets improving. Advisors can better sell their story to clients.”
All told, UBS WMA’s first quarter pretax profit of $251 million increased 16 percent from the fourth quarter, and jumped 19 percent from $211 million a year ago; net new money grew by four percent to $9.2 billion, and is up 99 percent from $4.6 billion a year ago. Meanwhile, invested assets of $891 billion this quarter is up six percent from the last quarter. That’s a gain of 10 percent from $807 billion in the same year-ago quarter.