Rising markets and belt tightening boosted asset managers' net margins to 23.4% in the fourth quarter, up from 21.1% in the third quarter, Kasina reported. This puts margins back to the level they were at before the credit crisis of 2008.

"Firms are above pre-crisis profit margin levels, supported by a combination of surging markets and some belt tightening," said Eric Daugherty, director of research and principal at Kasina. "From an operational perspective, many firms are actually in a better position than they were in 2007 and 2008. Margins are back to attractive levels-but the market is still substantially below its high."

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