Life is good at Northern Trust (NASDAQ:NTRS). As an asset custodian, and investment and wealth manager, business is booming, thanks to extremely robust global financial markets. Industry consolidation could also prove to be a boon to Northern Trust's future results.

Northern Trust's first-quarter net income increased 15% year over year, and results were pretty much robust across the board. Growth was due to a combination of net new business and asset appreciation. Northern Trust has also proved its ability to penetrate fast-growing foreign markets -- in fact, the company was named European pension fund custodian of the year for the fourth year in a row by International Custody and Fund Administration  magazine.

Management mentioned a couple of interesting points during the conference call. The wealth management sector, which serves 22% of the Forbes 400 families, grew fees by 24% and custody assets by 39%. Northern Trust also increased its staff in India to 350, from 90 a year ago.

Management also mentioned that pricing -- always a Wall Street concern with asset custodians -- stayed firm. It mentioned that pricing has been squeezed lower as the industry consolidates, but that Northern Trust's margins have always held up. Furthermore, the trend toward asset custodians providing integrated solutions of credit, brokerage, and fiduciary and asset management continues, which should help stabilize pricing on a longer-term basis.

I was particularly interested by management's remarks that consolidation could be an opportunity for Northern Trust. Competitor Bank of New York (NYSE:BK) merged with Mellon Financial, State Street (NYSE:STT) is buying Investors Financial Services, Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER) is buying First Republic, Charles Schwab (NASDAQ:SCHW) sold its U.S. Trust unit to Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), and ABN Amro (NYSE:ABN) is "in play." Historically, large merger transactions have been disruptive for clients, presenting opportunities for Northern Trust to pick up some new business, which could be a catalyst for the company.

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Fool contributor Emil Lee is an analyst and a disciple of value investing. He doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned above. Emil appreciates your comments, concerns, and complaints. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.