18 Mar 2012

Conflicts of Interest in Investment Banking

The discussion about separating banking and securities and investment banking has reached a dead end. But the inherent conflicts of interest in an investment banking world where intermediaries directly compete with their supposed customers (the word client is no longer appropriate) will always tempt service providers to treat their clients as 'muppets'. Maybe not even reverting to the rules imposed by Glass Steagall would be enough to improve the situation and the principal trading function and the customer advisory side should be separated like they were in the UK brokerage business before 'Big Bang'. This would mean that salespeople and corporate finance advisers would have more incentive to work with and for their clients. As long as this is not feasible the only protection for customers - be they individual investors or 'sophisticated' professionals working for fund managers or corporates - is to follow the old rule of  'Buyer Beware' and not to be too trusting when dealing with their sell-side counterparts. All too often they fall for sales patter, get taken in by glossy brochures and forget to check if there are better terms available in the market.

No comments: