Ameriprise wrapped up 2012 with higher earnings thanks to a boost from its wealth management division.

The firm’s revenue increased 6% to nearly $2.6 billion and net income rose 19% to $367 as growth in client assets helped to offset lower interest rates and expenses from Superstorm Sandy.

“We had a solid quarter led by strong results in our advice and wealth management business,” Ameriprise’s chief executive Jim Cracchiolo said in a statement. “We reported record high for assets under management and administration driven by strong client net inflows into fee-based accounts and equity market appreciation. We’re executing our strategy well and maintaining tight expenses to offset headwinds from low interest rates.”

Revenue at the wealth management division was up 16% for the year from $395 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 to $457 million in 2012.  Earnings rose sharply year-over-year from $83 million to $119 million. Client assets in the retail division rose by 14% from the fourth quarter of 2011 to hit $353 billion in 2012.

“Operating net revenues increased 11% to $1.0 billion driven by strong retail client net inflows, higher client transactional volumes and market appreciation, partially offset by the continued impact of low interest rates and [the transition out of the banking business],” the firm said in its report.

Earnings stayed the same from the third quarter of 2012 as the increase in revenue was offset by an increase in expenses, which rose $44 million to $886 million. According to the firm, that increase was driven by “higher distribution expenses associated with strong growth in client assets and higher activity levels.”

General and administrative expenses declined by three percent as the firm reported that it had completed its brokerage platform conversion, lowered an ongoing bank expense, and tightened discipline.

Operating net revenue per advisor was up 11% from $93,000 to $103,000, but the total number of advisors fell in both the firms’ employee broker-dealer and its franchisee branch. The 2,318 employee advisors at the firm at the end of 2012 increased from the 2,230 that the firm had in 2011, but dropped 10 from the third quarter of 2012. The number of franchisee employees was down 51 year-over-year from 7,500 to 7,449 advisors.

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