Merrill Lynch's revenue rose 0.04% year-over-year while overall net income for Bank of America's wealth management businesses was down 5% year-over-year, the company said.

Merrill's second quarter revenues rose modestly to $3.792 billion from $3.791 billion from a year ago. Revenue was up 1.2% compared with the previous quarter.

Overall, Bank of America reported that its Global Wealth & Investment Management unit, which includes Merrill Lynch and U.S. Trust, had net income of $690 million, down from $726 million a year ago.

The slip was due in part to a low interest rate environment, the firm said. Net interest income for the unit fell to $1.4 billion from $1.5 billion.

The company reported that Merrill had record lending flows of $3.5 billion. Merrill also had record asset management fees of $1.7 billion, an 11% year-over-year increase.

CEO Brian Moynihan said that more of the assets that the firm manages are being managed on a long term basis.

"That's leading to growth in asset management fees," Moynihan said during a conference call with analysts.

A long-term initiative is bearing some fruit for the firm: Merrill said that 73% of client assets have been converted to the firm's new Merrill Lynch One platform, which is replacing several older platforms. At the end of the quarter, the platform reached $410 billion in assets. Of those assets, $103 billion represented net new flows, the firm said.


Client balances rose modestly to $2.051 trillion from $2.043 trillion for the previous quarter and $2.017 trillion for the year-ago period. Advisor productivity, at $1.04 million in revenue per advisor, remained flat from the previous quarter.

While Merrill's wirehouse competitors have reported declining or flat headcount in recent quarters, the firm's advisor ranks have expanded, increasing by 187 to reach 14,370 for the quarter.

The growth in the advisor force is partly due to the firm's training efforts as well as more robust recruiting efforts.

"We feel good about the number of advisors joining us from competitors," Chief Financial Officer Bruce Thompson said during the conference call with analysts.

Last month, the wirehouse said it had recruited more than 25 advisors managing about $3 billion in assets. Many of those advisors came from Barclays, which is selling its U.S. wealth management operations to St. Louis-based Stifel.


Quarterly revenue for U.S. Trust, the firm's brokerage service for ultrawealthy clients, declined to $764 million from $783 million for same period a year ago, a drop of 2.4%.

Client balances rose 2% year-over-year to reach $389 billion. Asset management fees also rose 2%, climbing to $421 million.

Companywide, Bank of America reported net income of $5.3 billion, up from $2.3 billion. Profits were boosted by a drop in personnel expenses, which fell to $7.9 billion from $9.6 billion for the previous quarter and $8.3 billion for the year-ago period.

Earnings per share rose to $0.48 per share from $0.19.

"Solid core loan growth, higher mortgage originations and the lowest expenses since 2008 contributed to our strongest earnings in several years, as we continued to build broader and deeper relationships with our customers and clients," CEO Moynihan said in a statement.

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