Why Wall Streeters are smiling about next year

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Let’s say you are Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs.

You’re sitting in your office in a tower shooting up from lower Manhattan. From this floor you can literally look down on nearly every building around you. You are scraping skies they cannot reach. The only thing taller is the Freedom Tower.

On your desk, a terminal buzzes away, feeding you the prices of everything you care to know about.

So what do you want to happen next year?

Well, you’d like there to be a lot more mergers and acquisitions. There was a terrible slump in M&A this year, with deal volume down for the first time since the recovery began. 

You’d also like this activity to be financed in the capital markets rather than purchased with cash held by the buyer. The reason for this preference is simple: You make fees when companies issue bonds. The buyers of those bonds often make room in their portfolios by selling other bonds they hold, and your trading desks make money trading these things.

You’d also like some more initial public offerings. These generate fees, which is nice. But they are also the creation of future business. Public companies develop substantial Treasury needs for their cash, they make acquisitions, they borrow on the capital markets. Every IPO is a trail to future business.

So that’s why you, Lloyd Blankfein, are smiling.

new survey from Thomson Reuters and Freeman Consulting Services suggests that next year will be a very good one for you—and the rest of your Wall Street cohorts.

Thomson and Freeman surveyed more than 120 corporate “decision-makers” from around the globe to get their views on next year. And, overall, it’s very good news for Wall Street.

(Read also: Goldman’s report on why hedge funds are losing.)

The crystal balls of corporate honchos show a 17 percent rise in M&A activity. Bond and syndicated loan activity is also expected to rise 17 percent. Sixty-one percent of the hochos think there will be growth funded by public share offerings. 

Then there is the icing on the cake.

According to the survey, your clients don’t care about fees anymore. The “percentage of respondents citing competitive fee structures as a key criterion fell from 45 percent last year to 31 percent this year—the lowest level in our entire five years of surveying,” Thomson and Freeman explained.

Instead, the clients now care about stuff that investment bankers like to care about: League tables, relationships, quality of execution, knowledge of industry. Vague stuff that is always better for bankers and brokers than arguing over fees.

(Read also: Why Morgan Stanley isn’t Goldman Sachs)

Of course, the survey is only in its fifth year. No one really knows how good it is at predicting anything. But it’s a good look into what the types of people who are your clients think is going to happen.

And everything they’re thinking will make you money.

—By CNBC’s John Carney. Follow him on Twitter @Carney

This entry was posted in Wall Street. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply