Bank of America Corp. and Morgan Stanley held on to a slim lead over UBS AG in a 2012 ranking of the world’s largest wealth managers compiled by PAM Insight SA.

The U.S. lenders shared the top position, each holding $1.8 trillion of managed assets, with Switzerland’s largest bank in third place overseeing $1.75 trillion, the London and Geneva- based research firm said in an e-mailed statement today. Wells Fargo & Co., based in San Francisco, and Switzerland’s Credit Suisse Group AG completed the top five.

Bank of America sold its wealth business outside the U.S. to Julius Baer Group Ltd. last year. The third-largest Swiss wealth manager, ranked 18th globally by PAM Insight, said it may absorb as much as 72 billion francs ($76 billion) of assets from the transaction by 2015. Credit Suisse agreed in March to buy Morgan Stanley’s wealth-management operations in the U.K., Italy and Dubai with about $13 billion of assets.

“While the two American firms are inseparable as joint leaders of the rankings this year, both Bank of America and Morgan Stanley have effectively thrown in the towel on non-U.S. markets,” James Anderson, Geneva-based founder and chief executive officer of PAM Insight, said by phone. “UBS and Credit Suisse have always had a higher proportion of revenue from wealth management and clients from faster-growing emerging markets.”

PAM Insight calculates the ranking by using financial reports and confirms figures with the companies, according to the statement.

UBS surpassed Bank of America last year as the world’s biggest wealth manager, according to a separate ranking published by London-based Scorpio Partnership on July 10.

The following is a table of the world’s biggest 20 wealth managers based on end-2012 data from the PAM Insight report:

Rank Firm Name AUM ($bln)
1 Bank of America Corp. 1,800
2 Morgan Stanley 1,800
3 UBS AG 1,747.4
4 Wells Fargo & Co. 1,200
5 Credit Suisse Group AG 862.2
6 Royal Bank of Canada 647.3
7 HSBC Holdings Plc 398
8 Deutsche Bank AG 387.2
9 Raymond James Financial Inc. 368
10 BNP Paribas SA 349.4
11 Pictet & Cie. 328.7
12 JPMorgan Chase & Co. 318
13 Barclays Plc 302.4
14 Citigroup Inc. 250
15 Goldman Sachs Group Inc. 240
16 ABN Amro Group NV 215
17 TD Wealth Management 207.7
18 Julius Baer Group Ltd. 206.4
19 Northern Trust Corp 197.7
20 Bank of NY Mellon Corp. 188