Operating margins in the global asset management industry have recovered from their 2009 lows, at a median 32% in 2011, yet they remain below pre-crisis levels, according to new research by U.S. Institute, McLagan and Casey, Quirk & Associates.

The research, which polled 96 money managers worldwide that oversee approximately $21 trillion in assets, also revealed that alternatives and the expansion of professional money management in new markets will provide substantial growth opportunities for the industry. In fact, by 2016, alternatives - including hedge funds and funds of hedge funds, private equity, real estate, and commodities - will represent 40% of total asset industry revenue and 17% of assets under management, according to the research.

Also, as inflows slow from the historic North American, European and Japanese sources of investor growth, emerging markets in Latin America, Asia ex-Japan and the Middle East are expected to present asset managers with the best opportunities for new funds from institutional and retail investors, according to the report. By contrast, in 2000, alternatives generated 9% of industry revenue, and 3% of AUM.