UMB Financial in Kansas City, Mo., reported higher quarterly profit as it continues to makes progress on a multi-year effort to slash expenses.

The $20 billion-asset company said in a press release Tuesday that its third-quarter earnings nearly doubled from a year earlier, to $41.9 million. Earnings per share of 85 cents exceeded the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg by 8 cents.

Lower costs drove the results. Noninterest expenses fell 3%, to $179.8 million, because of lower legal, consulting and processing costs. Salary-related expenses increased.

UMB last October announced a plan to lower its efficiency ratio to around 70% through a mix of personnel cuts and process improvements. The efficiency ratio was 70.2% at Sept. 30, down from 80.8% a year earlier.

Net interest income rose 14%, to $124.8 million, mostly from stronger lending activity. Total loans grew 13%, to $10.3 billion. The net interest margin expanded by 14 basis points, to 2.87%.

Noninterest income rose 12%, to $121.9 million, as higher revenue from alternative investments and trading offset ongoing declines in advisory fees from the company's Scout Funds unit.

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