With all four wirehouses having reported their first quarter earnings, the industry has an opportunity to see how each firm's performance compares. 

During the recent quarter, growth slowed at Merrill Lynch while it accelerated for rival Morgan Stanley. Advisor headcount fell everywhere except at Merrill, where the firm has been slowly expanding its ranks.

Advisor productivity, meanwhile, remained highest at UBS – though Morgan's advisors gained ground.

To see how the firms compare on these and other metrics, scroll below or click here to view our slideshow.


Morgan Stanley reported the biggest increase in profits, which soared 27% year-over-year to reach $535 million for the quarter. Wells Fargo, however, was not far behind. The firm reported that profits for its Wealth, Brokerage and Retirement unit climbed 18% to reach $561 million.

Bank of America said that growth at its wealth management unit, which includes Merrill Lynch and U.S. Trust, slowed. Net income fell to $651 million for the quarter from $729 million for the year-ago period.


The advisor ranks shrank at three of the wirehouses. Merrill Lynch, however, bucked the trend, expanding its advisor ranks to by 98 from the previous quarter to reach 14,183.


UBS continues to have the highest productivity among the wirehouses, but Morgan Stanley has gained ground. The firm reported that revenue per advisor rose to $959,000 for the quarter from $878,000 for the same period a year-ago.

Wells Fargo does not provide data on advisor productivity.

Client assets grew at all the wirehouses, with UBS seeing the largest increase. The firm is reporting that client assets rose 5.9%, increasing to $1.104 trillion for the quarter from $1.042 trillion for the year-ago period. Morgan Stanley, however, boasts the most client assets at $2.047 trillion, up by about 5% year over year.


Wells Fargo reported the largest increase in revenue. The firm said that revenue rose 7.6%, increasing to $3.7 billion for the quarter from $3.5 billion for the same period a year ago.



Expenses rose modestly last quarter. Wells Fargo reported the largest increase at 4.4%. Morgan Stanley's costs rose more slowly, increasing only 1.9%.


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