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UBS Wealth Management Americas Posts 1Q Profit

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UBS AG’s Wealth Management Americas division swung to a pre-tax profit of $119 million in the first quarter after a $33 million loss in the fourth quarter, while advisor attrition reached its lowest point since before the financial crisis.

The Switzerland bank’s U.S. wealth management business posted $8.4 billion in net new money including interest and dividend income for the quarter. Invested assets rose to $761 billion, the highest level since the first quarter of 2008, due to market performance and net new money inflows.

First quarter revenue for that U.S. wealth management business rose 13% to $1.45 million from a year earlier.

The improved first quarter results announced Tuesday come as UBS’ Wealth Management Americas business has been the subject of sale rumors as it has worked to reach profitability after the financial crisis. UBS has consistently denied plans to sell that business, while chatter resurfaced in March that Wells Fargo could be a potential buyer.

The results for the U.S. wealth management business come as UBS posted overall higher first quarter net profits of $2.05 billion for the quarter, up from $1.93 billion in the fourth quarter. The firm’s international wealth management business’ pre-tax profit rose to $733.9 million versus $525.7 million as operating income increased by 7%.

For the U.S. wealth management business, operating expenses dipped to $1.33 billion for the quarter, with litigation provision charges of just $10 million versus the $157 million incurred in the fourth quarter.

Financial advisor attrition for the U.S. wealth management division was 4.3%, while attrition for advisors with $1 million or more in production was 2.3%. The division’s total number of financial advisors increased by 15 to 6,811.

Invested assets per financial advisor was $112 million, while revenue per financial advisor was $855,000. Same store net new money improved for the fifth consecutive quarter.

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