(Bloomberg) -- UBS, Switzerland's biggest bank, leapfrogged Morgan Stanley and Bank of America to become the world's largest wealth manager by client assets, according to a ranking compiled by PAM Insight SA.

Zurich-based  UBS increased client assets under management 16% to $2.1 trillion last year, the London- and Geneva- based research firm said in an e-mailed statement today. Bank of America had $2 trillion, while Morgan Stanley oversaw $1.9 trillion for affluent individuals and families. Wells Fargo & Co. came fourth with $1.6 trillion, and Credit Suisse Group AG completed the top five with $887 billion.

“U.S. and Swiss-based institutions continue to dominate the higher reaches of the ranking,” PAM Insight said. “The vast majority of banks in this year’s ranking reported an increase in assets under management.”

The 50 wealth managers tracked by PAM Insight grew client assets by 11% on average in 2013, even as some banks shrank their international private-banking operations to shore up balance sheets and meet new rules on capital adequacy. Banks sold businesses or refocused operations in some regions, according to PAM Insight.

HSBC Holdings Plc, the highest-ranked U.K. bank, dropped to ninth position from seventh after managed assets declined 4% to $382 billion. Europe’s largest lender said in February that full-year earnings at its private bank fell 81% as customers pulled money from its Swiss cross-border business, contributing to a net outflow of $26 billion.


Coutts, a private-banking arm of Edinburgh-based Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, and the U.K.’s Lloyds Banking Group Plc also fell in the ranking after managed assets declined.

While reorganizing private-banking units “may have a positive impact on profits over the longer term, it has done little to help boost assets under management in the short term,” James Anderson, founder of PAM Insight, said in the statement.

Bank of America increased client assets 11% even as the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company sold Merrill Lynch wealth units outside the U.S. to Julius Baer Group Ltd. The third-largest Swiss manager -- after  UBS and Credit Suisse -- climbed to 16th position in the global benchmark, after the deal helped boost client assets 34%.

Julius Baer has said it expects to absorb toward the lower end of a range of 57 billion francs ($63 billion) to 72 billion francs of assets from the acquisition.

The ranking was based on private client discretionary and advisory assets under management and excluded credit, execution- only brokerage assets and assets under custody or administration.




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