Skip navigation
Wells Fargo Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Wells Fargo, Bank of America Wealth Units Bounce Back From COVID-19 Lows

Wells Fargo's wealth division saw profits jump 157% compared with previous quarter in the throes of the pandemic, while Bank of America's Merrill Lynch and Private Bank units posted profits up 20% over the second quarter of the year.

Wells Fargo’s Wealth and Investment Management division, the home of Wells Fargo Advisors, continued to suffer during the third quarter from the pandemic and the larger troubles at the bank. The $463 million in net income reported Wednesday by the wealth division was down 64% year over year.

By comparison, Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch and Bank of America Private Bank, which are parts of the bank’s Global Wealth and Investment Management unit, posted earnings of $749 million, also down 32% year over year largely due to the pandemic and low interest rates.

Bank of America’s brokerage division posted profit 20% above the second quarter, however. Meanwhile, profit at the Wells Fargo Wealth and Investment Management division shot up by 157% over the previous quarter, indicating it may have seen the worst of its troubles.

Merrill Lynch and the Private Bank posted record AUM balances of about $1 trillion and $289 billion, respectively, up 6% and 5% year over year. Wells Fargo Advisors was even with last year at $1.6 trillion.

The advisory units at both banks continued to shed advisors. Merrill Lynch and the Private Bank boasted 17,760 advisors in the third quarter, down about 120 from the second quarter but flat with last year, when they began counting the Financial Solutions Advisors who staff Merrill branches as part of overall financial advisor head count.

Wells Fargo lost 390 brokers from last quarter and currently stands at 12,908, but a “sizable” group of salaried advisors, who reportedly work in the bank’s call centers, were let go as part of general budget cuts, as was first reported by AdvisorHub. Year over year, the Wells Fargo Advisors broker count is down 815, or 6%. 

Overall, Wells Fargo reported net income of $2 billion, or 42 cents per share, missing consensus expectations by 3 cents per share. This compares with a loss of $2.4 billion last quarter, the worst in the bank’s history.

Bank of America’s net income of $4.9 billion, or 51 cents per share, was up from $3.5 billion last year.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.