Bank of America Corp. replaced UBS AG as the world's biggest wealth manager last year after buying Merrill Lynch & Co., according to a survey released Monday by Scorpio Partnership of London.
Bank of America managed $1.5 trillion at the end of 2008, compared with $1.39 trillion at UBS, Switzerland's biggest bank by assets, said Scorpio, which surveyed 248 institutions worldwide.
Citigroup Inc. was third and Wells Fargo & Co. climbed to fourth after purchasing Wachovia Corp.
Though wealth managers hired 6% more staff last year, taking advantage of upheavals in the banking industry, their income fell 8%, Scorpio said. With the financial crisis slashing client assets in the wealth management industry by 16%, to $14.5 trillion, in 2008, that hiring opportunism may be misplaced, said Scorpio Managing Partner Cath Tillotson.