July 17 (Bloomberg) -- UBS led a ranking of the world’s biggest wealth managers for a second straight year as asset growth more than doubled among the top 209 firms, a study showed.

Assets under management at the Zurich-based lender rose 15% to $1.97 trillion, cementing its No. 1 spot in the ranking by Scorpio Partnership, a London-based consultancy. Bank of America was second with $1.87 trillion, followed by Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse Group and Royal Bank of Canada, all unchanged from a year earlier.

It was “a healthy year for wealth managers across the industry,” Sebastian Dovey, founder of Scorpio Partnership, said in an e-mailed statement today. “Good performance in the financial markets contributed to assets under management increases, as did strong net new money.”

The wealth-management industry oversaw $20.3 trillion at the end of December, compared with $18.5 trillion a year earlier, Scorpio Partnership said in the statement. The companies surveyed by Scorpio accounted for $14.9 trillion of the total.

The top 209 private wealth managers saw client assets advance 20% on average last year, after securities investments rallied and millionaires handed over more money to private banks.

HSBC Holdings dropped two places to eighth position after pulling out of markets it deems incompatible with its strategy. Julius Baer Group, the third-largest Swiss wealth manager, climbed three places to 12, after the acquisition of Bank of America’s non-U.S. Merrill Lynch businesses helped boost managed assets more than 40%.

Companies surveyed reported an average 11% gain in income, while expenses surged 14%, increasing the average cost-to-income ratio to 83%, from 80%.

Scorpio Partnership said where possible it excluded deposits, loans and client assets held in custody -- versus those being managed -- from its annual ranking.

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