Not all doom and gloom at Jefferies
The last broker-dealer was always going to feel the pain of a continuing capital markets slowdown, but sales and trading has provided a useful fillip.
One year ago, Euromoney went deep into Jefferies to lay out the firm’s 20-year journey from being the minnow of investment banking to breaking into ‘the big league’.
At the time, the firm’s irrepressible chief executive Rich Handler and president Brian Friedman were full of the joys of spring, able to mark the occasion of the firm’s 60th anniversary with records aplenty after having gorged on the capital markets feast that was on offer in 2021, in what would be the last hurrah of a zero-rate world.
That extraordinary year was always going to be a high water mark for Wall Street. The entire industry saw a marked decline through 2022. By September, in what they described as “More Than Just Another Rah-Rah Note!”, Handler and Friedman were telling their staff of a challenging and complex year, but that “we are not going to worry about things beyond our control”.
As expected, the full-year earnings season was brutal for those firms highly dependent on investment banking. In January, Jefferies announced a 28% drop in group revenues and a 52% drop in pre-tax profit. Leading the fall were the underwriting businesses of equity and debt capital markets – a decline of just 5% in advisory was the standout.