The Americas wealth management division of UBS AG emerged as a strong performer amidst third quarter losses of $2.3 billion at UBS worldwide on Tuesday. UBS, challenged by global market conditions, is embarked on a campaign to cut costs and eliminate poorly-performing units. The Zurich-based bank plans to slash 10,000 jobs globally and to scale back in fixed income and investment banking business.
UBS’ Americas brokerage division, meanwhile, reported record third quarter pre-tax profits on Tuesday. It is a performance that puts it within striking distance of achieving its landmark goal of annual pre-tax profits of $1 billion. In its latest quarterly earnings, the Americas division recorded pre-tax profits of $230 million -- $920 million on an annualized basis -- and its third consecutive record quarterly profit. The division had revenues of $1.63 billion, a jump of 3 percent from $1.59 billion in the second quarter and a rise of 5 percent from $1.55 billion in the same year ago period.
Third quarter pre-tax profits are up 9 percent from $211 million in the second quarter of this year, and soared 35 percent from $170 million in the same period a year ago. In the first nine months of 2012, UBS has generated $650 million in annual pre-tax profits. (It had pre-tax profits of $209 in the first quarter of 2012.) Karina Byrne, a UBS WMA spokeswoman, told REP the business was clearly moving closer towards its goal of $1 billion. That target was laid out by CEO Bob McCann, when the former Merrill Lynch brokerage chief took the reins in late 2009. (UBS WMA also reported that its cost-income ratio in the third quarter had improved to 86.1 percent, within its target range of 80-90 percent. The cost-income ratio was 86.6 percent in the previous quarter and 89.0 percent in third quarter of 2011).
The division reported record invested assets of $832 billion in the third quarter, a rise of 4 percent from $797 billion in the previous quarter. That’s up 16 percent from $719 billion in the third quarter of 2011. In addition, UBS WMA had net new money of $4.8 billion in the third quarter, a rise of 26 percent from $3.8 billion in the second quarter (and down 3 percent from $5 billion the same period 12 months ago.)
UBS says this quarter’s net new money was fuelled by a strong performance from UBS financial advisors at the firm 12 months or longer. All told, net advisor headcount grew by 11 to 7,032. (With dividends and interested included, net new money was $9.8 billion in the third quarter. That’s up 9 percent from $9 billion in the previous quarter and a rise of 1 percent from $9.7 billion in the third quarter of 2011.
UBS WMA is aiming to grow with some of the Street’s most productive advisors, says Scott Smith, an analyst at Cerulli Associates. In the latest quarter, UBS WMA reported record revenue per advisor of $927,000, a jump of 2 percent from $905,000 in the previous quarter -- and up 3 percent from $902,000 in third quarter of 2011. UBS WMA says its revenue per advisor puts it ahead of its peers on this metric. The Americas brokerage division also reported record invested assets per advisor of $118 million, up 4 percent from $114 million in the previous quarter. And it is a rise of 13 percent from $104 million a year ago.
Wealth management is viewed as a crown jewel of UBS worldwide as it races to overhaul its businesses and shutter unprofitable units. UBS said it will reduce employee headcount worldwide in the next two years by some 15 percent to 54,000.