The capital markets ecosystem turned in a decent performance in 2016 compared with the previous five years. Although investment banking revenues continued to decline, they did so at a lower rate, while other types of players—such as exchanges and venues, information providers, and buy-side institutions—realized revenue gains. The net result was year-over-year growth of 5% in total industry revenues.
We refer to the shift of global revenue pools from banks to nonbanks as the value migration. This migration has continued along the following paths:
Although a lessening of the effects of quantitative easing, along with impending deregulation, may dampen the impact of the value migration, institutions must still find ways to master it and make it work to their advantage.
Digital technology is facilitating the flow of information away from investment banks and into new channels. It is also allowing data to be created and controlled by nonbank entities. Some companies are implementing measures to stay ahead of the curve, yet others are adapting too slowly, if at all.
Ultimately, the technology that has forced other industries to completely overhaul their business models is now being brought to bear on the world of investment banking. The time for digital adoption is now.
Leveraging Digital Advances in Capital Markets
After three years of buoyant activity, 2017 marked a net slowdown in capital markets fintech equity investment. Such investment was less than half that of the previous two years, and the lowest since 2012, with venture capital firms in particular reducing their funding. As digitalization takes hold in capital markets, weak investment is a hindrance that may undermine growth and open the door to competitors. Financial institutions that invest in technology, on the other hand, operate more efficiently and are more productive.
One year after the UK’s referendum vote to leave the European Union, there is still much uncertainty about what Brexit will mean for small-to-medium enterprises, large corporates, and investors. What is clear, however, is that the impact of Brexit will be far reaching, and that information regarding its potential effects on the real economy is needed to support policy decisions. A new report co-produced by The Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) and The Boston Consulting Group analyzes the possible impacts of a “hard Brexit”—one that includes material barriers to trade and people movement between the EU and the UK—on European end users of wholesale banking and capital markets services.
Enormous opportunity exists from the collaboration of established capital markets (CM) players such as investment banks with young fintech companies, but the potential is far from being realized. Indeed, fintech is introducing new paradigms that CM players can exploit to their advantage in a landscape that is complex and difficult to navigate. By establishing labs to focus on early-stage, novel technologies that are core to their principal activities, and by systematically pursuing adjacencies that have synergies with their existing portfolios, investment banks can position their businesses for a bright, digital future. Yet time is of the essence. Banks and the entire capital markets ecosystem must take action now in order to gain the considerable benefits that are achievable.
Rising costs and technology changes in capital markets would seem to suggest that the sustainable capital markets businesses of the future must be of a minimum size. This leads to a vital question for European universal banks, and particularly medium-size institutions: will only the largest providers survive, or are there other possibilities and strategic opportunities beyond exit or gradual phase-out?