The Top Sales Team in Latin America
A trio of domestic firms dominate II’s Latin America Sales Team — but only one can wear the crown.
“Volatile would be an understatement.”
That’s the summation from Ashley Farrar, head of U.S. sales for BTG Pactual, on the state of markets in Latin America this year. Battered by interest rates and turbulent election cycles in Brazil and Colombia, the landscape was rocky for both foreign and local investors.
“Most investors started the year very bearish on the region with the exception of Mexico, but by March and April we started to see a few foreigners buying the market, and by May even the locals had turned more constructive as politics turned more benign in most places and investors started to focus more on economic activity and the interest rate cycle,” Farrar said. But there was “still relatively low positioning for foreigners on historical basis despite the improved sentiment,” she added.
For equity sales teams in the region, this meant that their clients needed them more than ever. “In challenging years for equities market such as this one, I would say that investors tend to be more demanding with the sell side for some kind of advisory help,” said Tatiane Shibata, head of equity sales for Bradesco BBI. “In Brazil, specifically, in an environment of high interest rates, it hasn’t been easy to perform or beat benchmarks — besides the challenge of the cost of opportunity. So clients´ requests on idea generation — more short-term oriented — and service in general has increased.”
A trio of local firms were there to meet the demand, according to the results of Institutional Investor’s 2023 Latin America Sales Team survey.
BTG Pactual again secured the No. 1 spot in this year’s ranking, based on the opinions of 534 buy-side money managers at 343 firms with Latin American holdings.
Itau BBA took second place as well as the title of most improved, rising four spots from last year. Bradesco BBI placed third.
JPMorgan and BofA Securities were the highest-ranked global firms, placing fourth and fifth, respectively.
Farrar credited BTG Pactual’s success to its small and nimble senior team across the region, as well as a partnership model that encourages mentorship of junior associates. “I think the real differentiator for us, whether it be sales or research or trading, is the partnership,” she said. “It allows us to maintain a very experienced team while motivating younger employees regardless of the market conditions. Everyone is always working for the same goal and the consistency and motivation this provides across the firm can’t be underestimated. The result is a consistent, high quality, value-added product that investors can depend on.”
At Bradesco BBI, there are four senior teams of 11 people across global offices in Sao Paulo, New York, London, and Hong Kong. “We are one of the few brokers that still has an Asian-focused sales team based in HK,” Shibata said. “BBI has a senior team with long experience in equities market — including research, IB, buyside, etc. — which enables the team to strengthen [the] BBI institutional relationship with clients. We value long-term relationships based on trust and reliability. The sales team is highly focused on optimizing the use of resources in order for a better monetization.”
Despite the rollercoaster of a year that had clients focusing on the near-term, sales teams believe that, in the long term, the future is bright for the region.
“The opportunity rests in the fact that Latin America as a region has a lot going for it including functioning democracies, rule of law, generally robust corporate governance, good regulation and high-quality management teams,” said Farrar. “As investors and the sell side we just need to position ourselves to take advantage of that. At BTG we are focused on the long term and that has allowed us to navigate the short-term obstacles and hopefully help our clients do the same.”