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UBS Wealth Management Posts Yet Another Record Quarter

Managing money for the rich is paying off for Swiss banking giant UBS.

UBS' Wealth Managment Americas saw record pretax profit of $258 million from the last quarter’s previous record of $251 million, on record revenue of $1.79 billion. Sales were up 13 percent from the same quarter last year.

This was the twelth consecutive quarter of positive money inflows for the division, with $2.8 billion of new new money. Advisor headcount grew minimally by 34 advisors to 7,099.

UBS WMA accounted for a large share of the company’s wealth management pretax profit worldwide. Outside the Americas, it jumped 11 percent in the quarter ended June 30 to $599 million. Excluding one-off charges and payments connected to a new international tax agreement, quarterly profits outside the Americas were $764 million, the strongest in four years.

Bing Waldert, a brokerage industry analyst at Cerulli Associates, says the performance of UBS WMA was one of the most notable in the industry. “It has been taking a different tack from its competitors in the wirehouse space as it focuses on fewer advisors” he said. “It has half as many advisors as everybody else [in the U.S.].”

Although it grew its crop of advisors minimally the total still hovers within the 7,000 range outlined by CEO Bob McCann when he embarked on returning the unit to profitability back in late 2009.

The UBS WMA division reported invested assets per advisor of $126 million. That’s unchanged from last quarter, but up 11 percent from $114 million in the same quarter last year. At the same time, revenue per advisor at UBS WMA was a record $1,012,000 in the second quarter. That’s an increase of three percent from $984,000 in the previous quarter. It climbed 12 percent from $905,000 in the second quarter of 2012.

Pre-tax profits were up 21 percent, suggesting that on an annulized basis McCann will exceed his goal of $1 billion.

“It does seem the strategy is continuing to pay off [for UBS WMA],” Waldert said, adding that until recently other firms have been losing market share in the wake of the financial crisis.  “UBS has been in front of the other wirehouses in terms of stabilizing.”

Overall, the Swiss banking giant sounded warnings about the European sovereign debt crisis and US fiscal concerns. But it also sounded an overall positive tone. The bank said its net income in the second quarter increased to $741 million from $524 million in the same year ago period. Revenue climbed by 15 percent to $7.6 billion. “I am very pleased with our performance this quarter,” said UBS Group CEO Sergio P. Ermotti. “The results show that our strategy is right and we're ahead on execution.”

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