UBS Wealth Americas 2nd-quarter net falls despite record revenue

NEW YORK, July 29 (Reuters) – UBS Wealth Management
Americas, the smallest of the four biggest U.S. brokerage firms,
said on Tuesday its second-quarter pretax operating profit fell
3 percent as clients withdrew money and expenses jumped.

Operating expenses at the New York-based unit of Swiss
banking giant UBS AG were up 8 percent to $1.7
billion on higher legal, compensation and recruiting costs and
shared service costs with its parent.

Revenue climbed 7 percent to a record $1.9 billion as the
firm’s 7,119 brokers collected more managed account fees and
arranged more loans that generated higher net interest income.

UBS Wealth Americas said its cost-income ratio, a measure of
expenses as a percent of revenue, was “within target range” at
87.4 percent, though it was up from 86.2 percent a year earlier.
The business was plagued by high expenses that totaled more than
90 percent of revenue when Chief Executive Officer Robert McCann
joined from Merrill Lynch in 2009.

Pretax operating profit, which contributed 17 percent to the
parent company’s total operating profit, declined to $238
million from $245 million a year ago. Broker compensation and
recruiting commitments each rose 8 percent to a total of $926
million. UBS Wealth had $2.99 billion of recruitment loans to
brokers on its books as of June 30.

Like Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Wells
Fargo Advisors, UBS’ larger U.S. competitors, the firm
has been harvesting income by encouraging clients to use
fee-based accounts tied to assets kept at the firms rather than
charging them trading commissions.

Recurring income, comprised mostly of managed account fees,
jumped 13 percent to $1.42 billion, or 74.9 percent of total
revenue, while commissions fell 2 percent to $464 million on
lower municipal securities trading. UBS said the big fee jump
reflected charges to clients based on higher assets in their
accounts at the end of the first quarter.

Managed account assets soared by $16 billion to $33 billion,
or one-third of total invested assets, at June 30. The jump
reflected market gains rather than new assets, since UBS said
clients withdrew a net $2.5 billion from their accounts during
the quarter to cover “seasonal” tax payments. In the
year-earlier quarter clients added more than $2 billion of net
new money.

Clients’ total invested assets still rose to a record $1.02
trillion from $892 billion a year ago, reflecting strong market
performance. The profit margin on the assets of 0.76 percent,
however, was at the lower end of UBS AG’s target range.

UBS brokers ended the quarter on track to each produce an
average of $1.07 million in revenue this year, which would be a
record, and were heeding the bank’s directive to sell loans.
Average mortgage balances grew 5 percent during the quarter and
securities-based loan balances rose 4 percent.

Credit loss expenses for bad loans rose to $2 million from
zero a year earlier, and the firm reserved $44 million for
undisclosed litigation and regulatory matters. On Tuesday, its
parent company said it took a $281 million charge for a tax

UBS Wealth Americas added a net six advisers during the
quarter. CEO McCann has said he is satisfied with a sales force
of about 7,000, about half the size of Morgan Stanley, Wells
Fargo and Merrill Lynch.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)


Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 EN

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