WASHINGTON Recent growth trends in the asset management business indicate that brand and reputation have become increasingly important, as abusive mutual fund trading practices have prompted investors to vote with their feet.

Fund complexes hit with fraud charges in the 18 months after the scandal broke have suffered, on average, a negative growth rate of 24%, while those fund complexes that have emerged unscathed have enjoyed a 15% growth rate on the plus side, said Merrill Lynch Senior Analyst Guy Moszkowski, speaking on a panel of sell-side analysts at the Investment Company Institute general membership meeting here. On an annual basis, the implicated fund shops shrank 16% as compared to 10% annualized growth for the scandal-free firms.

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