Wealth management will become increasingly central as the number of high-net-worth individuals across the region increases and retail banks will no doubt find plenty of opportunity to serve the unbanked populace that remains.
The way ahead for investment banks, though, is less obvious. Many of the largest potential M&A and equity deals have already been done and although debt markets are flourishing, the economics for investment banks of a heavily debt-dependent investment banking business do not stack up.
They are also relying on China, India and Australia to provide the occasional blockbuster deal to boost the coffers and turn mediocre years into decent, business-sustaining ones. Job cuts are a constant threat against this backdrop as banks seek to capitalize on windows when certain countries provide the best opportunities or certain products are the height of fashion. Barclays, Morgan Stanley and Citi have already trimmed back their staff in Asia and others are expected to follow suit.
When asked about how they are making up for the dearth of opportunities in equities and the relatively quiet M&A market, bankers will often say something along the lines of: "If the client wants an equity solution, well give them that, if they want a debt solution well give them that."
Although it is all well and good saying that you have to put the client first, paying no mind to the product in question, it is clear that if equity markets dont cooperate, some serious thinking will have to be done about the best structure for an investment bank seeking to flourish in Asia Pacific.