The banks aiming to beat the equities blues
Equities is a business where only the top handful of banks traditionally make money. It is also a sector with shrinking volumes and revenues. So why are two banks outside the top tier – Citi and HSBC – trying to boost their franchises?
Change in the equities world is coming – and coming in the most disruptive fashion since the advent of electronic trading in the 1990s.
With a shrinking overall wallet size, growing volumes and falling fees, the entrance of non-bank players, onerous new regulations on research provision and the introduction of new infrastructure for trading in Europe, the equity market is going through a period of intense change.
As a result, almost all of the banks involved in the market have been making big adjustments to their business models: investing heavily in technology and changing their client and regional focus.
In a 2016 study, Oliver Wyman, in conjunction with Morgan Stanley, estimated that from 2009 through 2015, the top equities banks took in about $5 billion of economic profit every year after cost of capital. The remaining banks, representing 40% of industry capacity, had more than $4 billion of cumulative economic losses.
This highlights just how hard it is to break into the near monopoly the top players have on the equity markets.