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Wells Fargo Brokerage Buoyed By Rising Markets

Though financial markets stumbled last month, a year of mostly rising values for stocks and other investments helped fuel higher second-quarter earnings at Wells Fargo's wealth management businesses.

The bank on Friday said its brokerage, wealth management and retirement services businesses generated $434 million of net income during the second quarter, up 27 percent from the year-ago period. Wells, along with JPMorgan Chase & Co, were the first major banks to announce quarterly results.

Wells Fargo's wealth businesses, including Wells Fargo Advisors, the third-largest national brokerage house, and Abbot Downing's wealth advisory services for the ultra-rich, increased total revenue by 10 percent to $3.26 billion from second quarter last year. The results reflected higher asset-based fees, brokerage transaction revenue and lower credit costs offset by rising personnel expenses, namely commissions paid to brokers.

Wells Fargo Advisors' brokers increased client assets by 9 percent to $1.3 trillion, reflecting what was the a long-lived bull market. Assets rose even as the number of advisers fell 1 percent to 15,268 from the end of March and were little changed from a year ago.

Efforts by brokers to draw more clients into managed account programs, which generate fees based on assets, helped push total managed account assets up 19 percent or $52 billion to a record $331 billion.

Assets in Wells Fargo's wealth management programs – fee based financial- and estate-planning businesses targeting the wealthiest Americans -- increased by 3 percent to $203 billion. Efforts to increase individual and company retirement plan business also bore fruit, with IRA assets up 12 percent to $315 billion while institutional plan assets rose 11 percent to $277 billion.

For comparisons, Bank of America's Merrill lynch Global Wealth Management in the first quarter had $1.83 trillion in clients assets and 16,084 financial advisors. Morgan Stanley Wealth Management had $1.8 trillion client assets overseen by 16,284 advisers.

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