UBS Wealth Management Americas posted a record profit in the first quarter as it recorded its strongest net new money inflows and cut expenses.
The division posted net income of $251 million, up 15% from $216 million in the previous quarter and up 19% from the year-ago quarter. Revenue stabilized at $1.737 billion, up 11% from the first quarter last year.
Wealth Management Americas continued to build momentum, the firm said in its earnings release. The business continued to perform well against its gross margin, cost/income and net new month growth targets.
Net new money ticked up 4% from the last quarter to reach $9.2 billion, a 99% increase from $4.6 billion a year ago. That upswing was driven by new recruits and collaboration efforts with the Global Family Office unit, the firm said.
At the same time, operating expenses fell by 3%, which the firm attributed to lower charges for provisions for litigation, regulatory and similar matters.
Total invested assets clocked in at $891 billion, up 6% from $853 billion and up 10% from the previous year. Income from those assets fell slightly, however, as higher transaction-based income and lower credit-loss expenses were offset by reduced mutual fund and annuity fee income and lower realized gains from the available-for-sale portfolio, the firm said.
Invested assets per financial advisor hit a record of $126 million, but revenue per advisor slipped after topping $1 million last quarter and moved down 2% to $984,000.
The absence of further sustained and credible improvements to the Eurozone sovereign debt situation, European banking system issues, ongoing geopolitical risks, and the outlook for growth in the global economy together with an increasing focus on unresolved US fiscal issues would continue to exert a strong influence on client confidence, and thus activity levels, in the second quarter of 2013, the firm said in its outlook. Nevertheless we remain confident that our asset-gathering businesses as a whole will continue to attract new money, reflecting our clients steadfast trust in the firm.
There were 7,065 advisors in the Wealth Management Americas division at the end of the first quarter, up six from quarter four and up 50 advisors from last year. Experienced advisor attrition rates remained at historically low levels, UBS reported.
Overall, the firm bested analyst expectations with a net profit of CHF 988 million, up significantly from a CHF 1.9 billion loss in the previous quarter due to fines and litigation expenses.