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Boutique financial services: Turkey develops an independents streak

A fresh wave of independent financial services companies has emerged in Turkey in the past few years. They are set to challenge the big banks and family conglomerates that dominate the markets. Nick Lord presents five firms that are intent on making the grade.

TURKEY, IN COMMON with many countries, is experiencing a boom in new boutique financial services companies. The difference is that in Turkey these new firms are being driven by opportunities in the markets; in the rest of the world they are often driven by the lack of employment openings at the big banks.

Being small and independent has never been an attractive proposition in Turkey, whose economy is dominated by big banks such as Akbank and Isbank and large family conglomerates (or holding companies) such as the Koc or Sabanci groups. Moreover, following the 2001 crash, the government and financial regulators resolved to make sure that the Turkish financial system was large, well capitalized and safe. In this set-up, small independent boutiques did not stand much of a chance.

But that is about to change. A large number of well-connected, experienced and smart financial professionals have started their own firms in recent years. And they all say that the landscape is changing. They are either providing niche services that the big banks are ignoring, or trying to serve clients that have limited access to top-end financial services.

These boutiques can be found in corporate finance, private equity, hedge funds and even renewable energy.

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