It has been a roller coaster of a year for traders and brokers in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The past year required our clients and us to operate in two very different trading environments, particularly in the Hong Kong and China markets,” said Patrick Kelly, head of cash equities, Asia Pacific at Credit Suisse. “The first quarter of 2021 saw a euphoric rally on record volumes, while the second half of the year saw a much more challenging trading environment, with reduced liquidity and increased volatility.”

The total turnover in Asia-Pacific surged from March through August of 2021 to a high of over $260 billion, then dropped through the later part of the year to around $200 billion per day, according to Credit Suisse reports. But with average daily turnover for 2021 at $210 billion, regional volumes remained much higher than in 2019 and 2020.

To navigate this bifurcated world, Kelly reported that the firm made investments in its Advanced Execution Services suite of algorithms, which allowed Credit Suisse to adapt quickly to this new trading regime.

Sara Perring, head of APAC cash distribution at J.P. Morgan, confirmed that the region has had its ups and downs this year. “The APAC region continues to evolve, with constant development in market structure and liquidity, which is both a challenge and an opportunity,” she said.

Perring cited global geopolitical tensions, combined with the macro backdrop and evolving Covid-related restrictions in APAC, as contributing to the continued market disruption and uncertainty. “Being consistent in product and service offerings across all markets in the APAC region and bringing the breadth and depth of our global franchise has been crucial to our partnership with clients,” she added.

This consistency and investment have not gone unnoticed, as both Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan are among the top group of firms recognized for trading and execution in Institutional Investor’s seventh annual All-Asia Trading Team survey.

II polled traders of Asian ex-Japan equities, asking them to rate brokers on various attributes — such as access to markets and liquidity and service quality and support — for trading and execution. The attributes were aggregated to produce the best brokers overall across pan-Asia, high touch, electronic trading, and portfolio trading.

Additionally, this year’s survey results recognized the top three local brokers in Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, as well as across the frontier trading markets in Asia.

Morgan Stanley once again took No. 1 in overall pan-Asia trading and execution, while J.P. Morgan improved one spot to second place, with UBS placing third.

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