Reuters releases investment banking outlook

Michael Ivory our consultant managing the role

The annual Thomson Reuters/Freeman Consulting 2014 Outlook for Investment Banking Services has been released, offering a number of interesting insights into how the market is developing across the globe.

According to the influential report, which is widely respected across the industry as a barometer, regulation and taxes remain a major issue for European executives, highlighting the impact of the scandals that emerged over 2013.

However, optimism remains relatively good among respondents, who seem to feel that economic conditions will become more favourable over the course of the next 12 months.

Companies' "bottom two concerns this year were obtaining capital and refinancing debt -
reflecting low rates and booming demand for corporate debt among institutional investors", said the report.

In Europe, 90 per cent of firms feel increasing revenue growth should be a top industry priority, while 60 per cent hope to become more profitable. Some 35 per cent of European businesses are hoping to bring in new talent in 2014, meaning job-seekers should enjoy a relatively buoyant situation.

This is up from 19 per cent in 2013, underlining the increase in positivity seen through Reuters' report.

Some 65 per cent of respondents from the Europe, Middle East and Africa region are forecasting growth for 2014, compared to just 43 per cent last year. Asia is also optimistic, although firms in the Americas proved somewhat less positive about their chances.

This is different in the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) sector, however, where North America appears to offer the most compelling opportunities for investors.

M&A volumes look set to recover strongly after a poor haul in 2013, with financials leading the way alongside media and telecoms as the two healthiest sectors.

Overall, revenue growth is expected to out-strip profit growth in all regions, implying that the recessionary attempts to curb spending and focus on overall security could be on their way out at last.

As positivity spreads about the UK's economic growth, investment banks appear to be looking forward to a better performance in 2014.

11/04/16
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The cost of the status quo | A contribution from Women in Fund Finance
The cost of the status quo | A contribution from Women in Fund Finance

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General

16/09/19

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How failing to recruit and retain a diverse workforce may lose you the next big mandate, a contribution from Chelsea Bruno and Meera Savjani on behalf of Women in Fund Finance. Although hard to believe, there are still some who do not understand the value of diversity. Despite countless studies providing strong evidence that the most successful companies are those that employ a diverse group of individuals, many maintain homogenous workforces with no intention of diversifying. Although this approach has long gone unchallenged, there is now a growing consciousness within many corporate cultures which is driving companies to hold their external counter parts and service providers accountable for failing to address the issue. It comes as no surprise that some of the more “traditional” industries such as law and finance have been slower to progress in building diverse talent pools, and the clients of these firms have started to notice. In January 2019, more than 170 general counsels and corporate legal officers in the United States signed an open letter to big law firms which criticised these firms for the lack of diversity at the partner level. The letter, which was signed by companies such as Heineken, Vox Media, and S&P Global Ratings, stated that going forward these companies (many of which operate globally) would prioritise their legal spend on those firms that commit to diversity and inclusion. The letter went on to state “we applaud those firms that have worked hard to hire, retain and promote to partnership outstanding and highly accomplished lawyers who are diverse in race, colour, age, gender orientation, sexual orientation, national origin, and religion and without regard to disabilities”1. Although the letter does not set out how these firms plan to measure such level of commitment, it’s clear that these firms are serious about holding their legal counterparts accountable, and when taking a closer look, it’s clear that emphasis on diversity does not stop at these 170 corporations. Across the Atlantic, industry groups in the UK are also pushing to hold big corporates accountable for failing to make meaningful progress when it comes to diversity. As reported by the Guardian in May 2019, the Investment Association (IA), a trade body which represents UK investment managers who in aggregate manage over £7.7tn in AUM, has confronted 94 publicly listed companies for failing to make sufficient progress on gender diversity. The IA has written to each of these companies and raised concerns about the lack of gender diversity in leadership positions. A list of companies which received the highest level of warning from the IA was recently published in the Guardian and confirmed by IA2 , and although some of these companies have responded with statements emphasising efforts to address such issues, it’s clear that shareholders and potential investors will be looking for measurable progress going forward. In line with such expectations, some investors are taking accountability into their own hands, as evidenced by a change implemented by ILPA (the Institutional Limited Partner Association), the global industry body that represents the interest of private equity limited partners. ILPA recently expanded its standard due diligence questionnaire (DDQ) to include a section related to diversity and inclusion, and requires firms fill in a template which aims to measure and report the gender and ethnic diversity of teams by seniority and role. It also includes a section of questions designed to help investors understand a firm’s policies and procedures in areas such as hiring, promotions, family leave, mentoring, and harassment and discrimination. When asked about the updated DDQ, CEO of ILPA Steve Nelson stated “ILPA believes that diversity and inclusion is a strength that all stakeholders within the private equity ecosystem should embrace and promote in meaningful ways,” said Nelson. “The due diligence questionnaire expansion and Code of Conduct guidance represent an opportunity for general partners (GPs) and limited partners (LPs) to have conversations about these important issues, in the spirit of a stronger and ever improving workplace for everyone. We look forward to advancing these ideals which serve as the foundation for a healthy, prosperous industry.”3 As with the other industry groups discussed herein, ILPA is sending a clear message that diversity is no longer an optional. Changes such as the updated DDQ make it increasingly difficult for firms to completely ignore the topic, and although the potential consequences are meaningful in all industries, the cyclicality of fundraising in private equity means the risk associated with failing to adapt could be both severe and expensive. While few would doubt that the conversation around diversity and inclusion has evolved significantly over the past two decades, many are now suggesting that the time has come for the conversation to expand into action. Although just a few examples are discussed herein, it's almost for certain that there will be more letters and questionnaires to come. With the rise of such accountability, the cost of failing to adapt may soon weigh heavy on firms and maintaining the status quo of a homogenous workforce may come to feel like a burden in itself. Thus, firms must ask themselves whether the status quo is worth the missed opportunity that will result. The 10th edition of our highly regarded Market Insight Report represents the views of over 1,100 professionals, and contains insights from our specialist consultants and key business partners on market and employment trends.  If you’re looking to find out more on salary benchmarking and the motivations driving the modern workforce today, download our full report which contains key contributions from Western Union Business Solutions,Seddons Solicitors, Intoo UK & Ireland  and Breaking the Silence. Cited https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/2019/01/27/170-gcs-pen-open-letter-to-law-firms-improve-on-diversity-or-lose-our-business/ https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/may/13/investor-group-warns-almost-100-firms-over-lack-of-gender-diversity https://www.pr-inside.com/ilpa-publishes-diversity-and-inclusion-resources-f-r4704476.htm

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Although hard to believe, there are still some who do not understand the value of diversity.

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Mellani Georgiou

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Mellani Georgiou

Mellani Georgiou

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Top banks 'must adapt to market conditions'
Top banks 'must adapt to market conditions'

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Financial Services

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General

11/04/16

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The conventional wisdom is that top banks, the largest players in the market, have managed to deal with the ongoing financial crisis relatively well, while their smaller counterparts struggle to keep their heads above water.However, a new report from McKinsey & Co has indicated almost 100 of the world's biggest banking groups could be at risk of collapse over the coming years as they are overtaken by rivals and fail to change their operating model to reflect the current conditions. Some one-fifth of the world's top 100 banks could be takeover targets for their rivals due to their underperformance in the market, reports the Telegraph. McKinsey is a respected advisor on the banking sector, working with many of the world's largest financial institutions to help them deal with the ongoing changes across the industry. These concerns were raised in its annual report on the financial services trade, in which it also suggested only ten organisations will be able to adapt in such a way they emerge from the also-rans to become leading banks. It also called for more firms to utilise a back-to-basics strategy whereby they avoid complicating their approach too much. "Banks that get caught in these traps are more likely to be among the 20 per cent of institutions worldwide that, in our estimate, may become acquisition targets in the next several years," McKinsey claimed. Royal Bank of Scotland hired the firm two years ago to help come up with a strategy that focused less on its investment banking arm, indicating a major part of the organisation's approach - it feels that, with global growth dropping, banks should become more focused and less wide-ranging. McKinsey also called on banks to embrace technology, something which could prove a major divider between those firms that succeed and those that fail in the coming decade. Investment in cyber-security, automated systems and more could save banking groups billions over the next few years, assuming they are set up effectively.

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Michael Ivory

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Michael Ivory

Michael Ivory

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Michael Ivory

Financial services 'less diverse than a decade ago'
Financial services 'less diverse than a decade ago'

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Financial Services

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General

11/04/16

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Despite government efforts to increase diversity in financial services, the sector has gone backwards, a new report has concluded.When the word diversity is mentioned in relation to the financial sector, it is usually to do with equal opportunities in the workforce, with companies working to reduce discrimination and increase representation among groups such as women and members of ethnic minorities. Although this kind of diversity has increased, there is another sort that has gone into reverse: the actual range of financial services providers. This was the central finding of the Building Societies Association (BSA) report on diversity in financial services. It concluded that the level of competition and consumer choice has got weaker during the recent, turbulent years. For example, since its peak in 2004 the mortgage market has contracted by 20 per cent in terms of the number of providers, while the savings market is at its least diverse since 2000. Economic secretary to the Treasury Andrea Leadsom welcomed the report as evidence of the importance of government efforts to diversify the sector, noting the coalition agreement contained pledges to "promote mutuals and foster diversity within financial services". However, BSA chief executive Robin Fieth commented: “This research shows that while there has been a renewed effort by government and a commitment from political parties to foster diversity, there is still much to do." He added that this is why the BSA has launched its own Manifesto for Financial Mutuals, seeking more help to diversify the sector. This view was backed by co-author of the study, Professor Jonathan Michie from the University of Oxford. He said greater commitments to financial services diversity should be included in all the party manifestos at next year's general election. Candidates seeking jobs in the financial sector may find using the services of a specialist recruitment company is a good way to help understand their potential prospects, by understanding the scope of opportunities in the present market. According to the coalition agreement, a key aim of increasing financial services diversity was to create a "banking system to serve business, not the other way round".

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Michael Ivory

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