Slideshow How Ameriprise, Raymond James and Stifel stack up now

  • May 18 2016, 4:35pm EDT

Market headwinds dampened wealth management growth

Ameriprise, Raymond James and Stifel — which boast fast growing independent and employee channels — may have reported slightly better earnings performance than their wirehouse competitors, but difficult economic headwinds dampened earnings results for these firms. For example, Stifel reported a 15.3% year-over-year surge in net revenue for its wealth management unit. But at the same time net income shrank 5.57% for the St. Louis-based firm, whose expenses soared.

Click through our slideshow to view our analysis of these firms' performance this quarter.

Higher income except at Ameriprise

Stifel notched an impressive year-over-year increase in revenues. Wealth management contributed more to the firm's top line, accounting for 61.2% of the firm's total revenue compared to 58.7% from the same period a year ago.

Raymond James' small uptick in revenue was due to rising account and service fee incomes. Fees associated with the firm's multi-bank cash sweep program rose due to an increase in short-term interest rates. Revenues also got a boost from clients upping cash balances.

Revenues at Ameriprise fell. The company blamed this on lower average equity markets and a reduction in average client asset levels due to market headwinds.

Read more: Ameriprise revenue slips, adviser headcounts up

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Acquisition bills pile up for Stifel

Stifel's rising expenses outpaced revenue growth. The firm attributed its 24.2% year-over-year increase in total non-interest expense to a leap in both compensation and non-compensation expenses, which soared 20.8% and 37.5% respectively.

Expenses at Raymond James increased a modest 0.24%, due to higher administrative and incentive compensation and benefits expenses. This was due to a rise in employee benefit plan costs and additional staffing levels, primarily in their Private Client Group operations and information technology functions.

Ameriprise was the only firm to see its wealth management expenses decline. Distribution expenses reflecting lower adviser compensation caused by equity market depreciation and lower client activity were the main drivers of Ameriprise's lower costs.

Read more: Stifel's wealth profits slump as expenses mushrooms 24.2%

Net income falls at Ameriprise and Stifel

Raymond James was the only firm that posted profits for the first quarter: 10% year-over-year growth in pre-tax income.

Increases in expenses at both Ameriprise and Stifel offset revenues.

Quarterly decline but yearly increase adviser numbers for Stifel

Stifel recorded a reduction in adviser headcount quarter-over-quarter, but that figure was still up 752 advisers compared to the year-ago period. The jump was a result of two acquisitions last year: Sterne Agee and Barclays' U.S. wealth management unit.

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Employee ranks shrink at Stifel and Ameriprise

Raymond James is the only firm that recruited advisers onto their employee platform.

But adviser headcount at Ameriprise's IBD rose

Stifel is the only firm that saw advisers leave its independent channel.