February 2017

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This research report evaluates banking profitability from the fundamentals of measurement to 10 levers for improvement, with an emphasis on financing and derivatives activities in capital markets. We also consider how regulatory changes make it harder than ever to understand which transactions or overall businesses are genuinely profitable, and what can be done about this problem. Historical methods of measuring the success of banks has influenced key decision making; changing methods will result in new key drivers of future bank activity.

Bank profitability by any measure remains generally low, but it is possible that this will soon change: rising interest rates raise the hope of increased profits through increased Net Interest Margins; the most disruptive regulatory changes may be over; and most banks have successfully repaired their balance sheets, increasing capital by over a trillion dollars and reducing Risk Weighted Assets. Regardless of profitability however, and despite many cost cutting initiatives, many banks face a high degree of stickiness in their cost base.

Warren Buffet is famously quoted as saying “It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked”. This was especially evident during the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-2009, and caused some institutions to hurriedly leave the beach. Bailouts and takeovers covered up the modesty of a much larger group of banks. Even a decade later, the tide has not yet fully come in.

This report has been written for a wide range of capital markets professionals to help them increase profitability in their organizations. Securities finance and derivative businesses will find this particularly useful as a means to deal with regulatory charges, process/technology investments and support function cross charges.

This report is 32 pages with 8 exhibits.


■ Executive Summary

■ Measuring Profitability
– The Value of Commonly Used Profitability Metrics

■ Sources of Costs
– The Cost Allocation Process
– Specific Implications for Securities Finance

■ 10 Levers for Improving Profitability

■ About the Author

■ About Finadium


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