The ability to provide liquidity and adapt to new technology
set apart the winners from the losers in Institutional
Investors ranking of the regions best trading
Traders around the world have a problem, one that is
especially acute in Asia: markets arent as liquid as they
used to be.
Demand for liquidity is the highest its ever
been for the last 25 years that Ive been in this business
particularly in Asia-Pac, says Laurent Combalot,
Head of APAC Client Trading and Execution (CTE).
A number of factors including the rise of electronic
trading and the growth of quantitative funds and ETFs
have made finding enough liquidity to execute trades more
challenging, according to the trading service providers ranked
at the top of Institutional Investors 2017 All-Asia
The survey, based on responses from nearly 400 buy-side
traders and other investment professionals investing in Asian
equities, ranked firms across their electronic trading,
high-touch, and portfolio trading platforms throughout the
Combalots firm, UBS, ranked third overall, with
recognition for its work in Australia and New Zealand, as well
as its overall portfolio trading group. Combalot points to his
teams efforts to provide clients with access to liquidity
as a key differentiator, adding that UBS has leveraged its own
balance sheet and invested in new technology as part of its
First place went to Credit Suisse, which was distinguished
in 17 of the 20 categories voted on in this years survey.
Patrick Kelly, who recently joined Credit Suisse from Deutsche
Bank and now leads the firms Asia Pacific execution
services, says the banks technology investments include
upgrading its algorithmic trading platform, which will
allow us to more rapidly customize the client execution
experience, he adds.
Building an algorithmic trading platform is not a
one-time project, he says. It requires constant
evolution and consistent investment.
These investments have paid off: Credit Suisse earned first
place in five out of six electronic trading categories, besting
rivals in Australia and New Zealand, China and Hong Kong,
developing markets, India, and Korea.
Advancements in electronic trading come with their own
downsides, however. Kelly says the increasing proportion of
orders being executed electronically has added to liquidity
challenges, making it difficult to source block trades, or
large orders. He adds that these sizeable trades are routed to
the brokers most trusted to find block liquidity while
This ability to trade with minimal market impact was one of
the factors on which firms were graded for the survey. Voters
also rated trading service providers based on attributes such
as risk appetite, trading capabilities, and customer
Rounding out the top five firms overall were Morgan Stanley,
Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Citi. Morgan Stanley earned
the second-place spot with recognition in 13 categories,
including two first-place finishes for its China and Hong Kong
Fourth place went to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, while
Citi came in fifth.