Ameriprise Financial posted strong fourth quarter earnings which were boosted by robust growth from the firm’s wealth management unit.

The Minneapolis-based company said that revenue from its advice and wealth management division grew to $1.127 billion for the fourth quarter of 2013 from $1.005 billion for the year-ago period, a 12% increase.

The division’s revenue growth was driven by a 19% increase in management and financial advice fees, which rose to $543 million from $457 million.  The growth in revenue resulted in a profit of $162 million for the quarter, up from a profit of $119 million for the same period a year earlier, a 36% increase. Total retail client assets grew to $409 billion from $353 billion, a 16% increase.

The number of employee advisors fell slightly to 2,205 at the end of 2013, down from 2,318 the year before. Meanwhile, the number of advisors in the franchise channel rose to 7,511 from 7,449.

"The business’s barometers are good,” says Alois Pirker, research director at Aite Group. “They’ve continuously improved operations, grown fee business, improved profitability and kept advisor force stable.  All good measures."

Ameriprise’s advice and wealth management expenses climbed to $965 million for the quarter from $886 million for the same period a year earlier, an increase of 9%.

The company’s total profits rose from $332 million to $380 million, a 14% increase. Ameriprise also posted diluted earnings-per-share of $1.87, up from last year’s $1.71 per share. The earnings report caps off a strong year for Ameriprise.  The company’s stock price rose about 75% in 2013.

Ameriprise’s expenses climbed to $2.467 billion from $2.256 billion, a 9% increase, while the firm’s total assets under management and administration grew to $771 billion from $681 billion.

"We had a strong fourth quarter to wrap up a very good year," said CEO James Cracchiolo in a conference call with investors.

He added, "I believe we are positioned well for the year ahead."

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