Wells Fargo’s wealth, brokerage and retirement unit has reported a net income of US$491 million for the fourth quarter of 2013, an increase of 40% compared to US$351 million reported a year ago.

Revenue of US$3.4 billion increased US$344 million, or 11%, from a year ago primarily driven by strong growth in asset-based fees, as well as higher net interest income and higher gains on deferred compensation plan investments (offset in compensation expense).

Noninterest expense increased US$142 million, or 6% from a year ago due to higher broker commissions, increased non-personnel expenses and an increase in deferred compensation plan expense (offset in trading income), partially offset by lower FDIC expense.

Overall, Wells Fargo group’s quarterly income rose to US$5.6 billion, or US$1 a share, from US$5.1 billion, or 91 cents a share, in the fourth quarter of 2012.

For all of 2013, Wells Fargo earned US$21.9 billion surpassing JPMorgan (US$17.9 billion) as most profitable US bank.