More than 25% of high-net-worth individuals either withdrew assets or closed their accounts with their wealth managers in 2008, according to the World Wealth Report, a survey of the 15 largest firms issued by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and Capgemini. Instead, 30% of wealthy investors said they are likely to move their money to local and regional banks.

The 15 asset managers surveyed lost an average of nearly 25% of their assets in 2008 after a 17% growth in 2007.

“The good news is that it’s still a profitable business—just less profitable than before,” commented Bertrand Lavayssierre, managing director of global financial services at Capgemini.

Wealthy clients moved 50% of their assets into cash or cash-equivalent assets, up from 44% in 2007 and 35% in 2006.

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