The Rise of the Asian Superbroker


As the global banks grapple with tides of regulation, fines, and a myriad of other post-crisis issues, local Asian institutions are tooling up and stepping in to fill the gaps. Fidessa’s Steve Grob looks at the emergence of the Asian superbroker and investigates how the locals are catching up with the big guys.



As the global banks grapple with tides of regulation, fines, and a myriad of other post-crisis issues, local Asian institutions are tooling up and stepping in to fill the gaps. Fidessa’s Steve Grob looks at the emergence of the Asian superbroker and investigates how the locals are catching up with the big guys.

Global banks have had a tough time in the past five years. Soaring capital adequacy ratios and ballooning compliance costs have forced them to look carefully at their business models and cost bases. Asia in particular is proving to be challenging ground, with as many different regulatory regimes as there are countries in this huge and hugely diverse region. Add the need to be ‘local’ in every market and it can be a stretch too far.

This has created a very fertile ground for local banks and brokers. Big deals have already been done – CIMB and RBS, RHB and OSK, Maybank and Kim Eng – and ASEAN banks generally are increasing their investment in their services for international clients wanting access to markets from Singapore and Hong Kong to Mongolia and Myanmar. Indeed some are reaching out past the Asian border – CITIC acquired CLSA and now has a license to trade in the US as a broker-dealer. Could these Davids of the broking world really be starting to snap at the heels of the Goliaths?

It all began in the chaos of the crash. At first the gaps left by the global banks began to be filled by tier two brokers. Even local shops setting up for the first time enjoyed a bit of a party, grabbing market share as the global guys turned their attention inward – but could it last?

The short answer was no. While the immediate winners enjoyed short-term gains, global clients expected the same level of service they enjoyed at home in Europe and the US, and Asian providers initially struggled to provide the super-regional front-to-back office professionalism expected. Fast forward five years, however, and the game is changing fast.

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