Most improved investment bank
Chase wins this award on a paradox - that it has not managed to achieve what it wanted to.
But the way in which Chase has dealt with its inability to buy itself into the equities business is intelligent, and more importantly ought to bring nothing but upside for the firm.
How different it would have been had Chase succeeded in its quest to buy Merrill Lynch or Morgan Stanley, for example, or any other large brokerage house. On paper it would make for a formidable universal bank, lacking Citibank's relationships but with much more product power. In reality it would have been an expensive mess, especially in the debt capital markets groups where Chase and all of its potential targets can claim strength.
Chase has followed a different path, one that increases its presence without having to risk the whole of the firm. It does not create a global, bulge bracket investment bank, but it opens doors to new products, new markets, and the new economy.
Hence it wins the award for most improved investment bank. In fact, with close to $2 billion in earnings from its wholesale business (syndicated loans, foreign exchange, debt markets and derivatives), Chase is no small contender to start with.