The recovery that started in the spring continued until the end of the third quarter. Investor optimism grew stronger with the decline in the number of coronavirus infections during the summer and expectations of vaccines being introduced to the market at the beginning of next year. Investor optimism was also strengthened by extensive economic support packages and long-term commitment by central banks to expansionary monetary policy. Net subscriptions to Evli's funds grew and fund capital increased from the level at the end of June. Evli's operating profit improved, which was a result of an increase in revenue and a reduction in costs.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting broad recommendation to favour remote work, Evli's operations continued in the third quarter without disruption and we maintained our client activity at the level of previous years. Our determined efforts to develop our information systems and to renew our processes carried out over recent years have increased our capacity to operate in conditions such as the present exceptional circumstances.
In the third quarter, the return from Evli's operations rose by four percent to EUR 18.7 million and operating profit rose by 18 percent to EUR 6.9 million. Client assets under management, which decreased as a result of the fall in share prices in the first half of the year, had a negative impact on our net fees and they were two percent lower than in the comparison period. However, net income from securities transactions and foreign exchange dealing more than doubled, and Evli's return on equity was almost 20 percent. The ratio of recurring revenue to operating costs rose to 128 percent.
Overall, the return from the Wealth Management and Investor Clients segment’s operations remained at the same level year on year and was EUR 14.6 million. At the end of September, client assets under management were EUR 13.6 billion (EUR 13.6 billion) and Evli Fund Management Company's fund capital was EUR 8.9 billion (EUR 9.4 billion). Net subscriptions during the third quarter were EUR 384 million.
The Advisory and Corporate Clients segment’s return declined 13 percent and were EUR 2.0 million. The Corporate Finance unit’s invoicing fell below the previous year’s level after several advisory projects were delayed. The unit's mandate base is strong, however, and the outlook for the final quarter of the year is positive. The incentive systems management business continued to grow as in previous quarters. At the end of the quarter, a share exchange was executed in which Evli Awards Management Oy and Alexander Incentives Oy were merged into a new company named Evli Alexander Incentives Oy. Through the merging of operations, the new company will have the opportunity to serve its clients throughout the value chain of incentive programs, from design to management and realization.
Among Evli's strategic focus areas, international fund sales faced a challenging spring due to redemptions following market turbulence, but the situation calmed down during the third quarter. Evli's fixed income funds that are widely recognized and invest in European and Nordic corporate bonds are at the core of international fund sales. In August, we launched a new Evli Green Corporate Bond fund that invests in green corporate bonds. In this short amount of time, the fund has already been positively received by our clients.
Another strategic focus area – sales of alternative investment products – performed as planned in the third quarter. We started the marketing of our new forest fund, Evli Impact Forest Fund I, and aim to carry out the first closing during the end of the year. We also started preparations for the launch of the new Leveraged Loan and Private Debt funds and strengthened our resources with two experienced experts. The combined assets of alternative investment products have increased significantly in recent years and were already over EUR 1 billion at the end of the quarter.
We made responsibility a strategic focus area for Evli at the beginning of the year, as we believe that responsibility will become even more important in the future. During the third quarter we received very good ratings of our responsibility in two external evaluations. The UN's responsible Investment umbrella organization, PRI, awarded Evli its highest rating (A+) in the Responsible Investment Strategy and Governance category, and Evli's responsible investment was ranked best in Finland for the fourth consecutive year in the KANTAR SIFO Prospera “External Asset Management Finland 2020” -survey.
I would like to thank our clients and shareholders for their trust and our employees for their hard and successful work in this exceptional environment.
Maunu Lehtimäki, CEO, Evli Bank Plc