Although profits fell firm-wide, Ameriprise Financials Advice and Wealth Management arm posted a number of improvements across the board in the third quarter.
The firm navigated a low interest rate environment and volatile markets, pulling in operating earnings of $119 million, up $3 million from a year ago and $8 million from last quarter. Net revenues were up 2% for the year from $938 million to $961 million. Pretax operating margin rose to 12.4%, up from 11.6% last quarter and back on par with where it was last year.
We had another good quarter, led by solid results in our advisory and asset management businesses, Ameriprises chairman and chief executive, Jim Cracchiolo, said. Our advisory client base grew nicely in the quarter. We experienced strong retail client net inflows including more than doubling net inflows into wrap accounts.
Cracchiolo acknowledged that low interest rates continue to create headwinds, but the firm brought its client assets up by $14 billion over the last quarter from $331 billion to $345 billion, an 18% jump from a year ago when the division had $293 billion in client assets. That was primarily due to market appreciation, the firm reported.
Advisor headcount also rose over the quarter. Ameriprise added 17 employee advisors to bring the total to 2,328. The rise in client assets kept pace with that growth as revenues per advisor climbed to $98,000 from $97,000 last year (and one year ago).
Overall net income at the firm dropped 47% from the third quarter of 2011, going from $322 million to $174 million thanks in large part to a $48 million unfavorable impact from an annual review of insurance and annuity valuation assumptions.