Commission flows from institutional investors in Europe are being gradually concentrated among major investment banks with smaller and niche brokers facing an increasingly challenging environment.
The findings are part of research from consultancy Greenwich Associates looking at European equity commissions paid by 200 of the region's asset managers between January and March 2012.
Between 2011 and 2012, the share of institutional commissions paid to sell-side firms that specialise in specific countries, sectors or small- and mid-cap stocks dropped to 26% from 29% in the previous period. The decline in commissions share among specialist brokers was even more pronounced among UK firms, which saw a six percentage point decline to 25% between 2011 and 2012.
The decline in share appeared to be picked up by bulge-bracket brokers. Across Europe, global banks with investment and research services grew their share of the commission pot from 66% to 70% in 2011. In the UK specifically, it grew from 63% to 68% in the same period.
Credit Suisse and UBS were voted joint first by respondents as the most important electronic trading provider, while UBS topped overall European equity trading share, garnering 10.5% of commissions.
“The slowdown in trading activity and the corresponding drop-off in sell-side trading revenues are prompting major brokers to re-assess past strategies based on amassing market share and to narrow the focus of their equity businesses to their most profitable customer segments,” said Greenwich Associates consultant John Colon. “In many cases this includes desk consolidation and headcount reductions.”
Yesterday, Japan-based investment bank Nomura announced a realignment of its equities trading business, opting to consolidate execution services under its Instinet agency brokerage brand. Deutsche Bank and Citi are among the sell-side providers that have recently taken steps to integrate the equity trading services offered to institutional clients.