Where to Get the Best Execution in Europe
JPMorgan leads II’s Developed Europe Trading Team.
While the exceptional market volatility ushered in by last year’s Russian invasion of Ukraine has ebbed, 2023 was still a difficult year for trading and execution in Europe.
“EMEA equity trading remains challenging and somewhat muted versus 2022, where the first half of the year saw the spike in volumes and volatility related to the war in Ukraine,” said Brian Gallagher, head of European execution for EMEA at BNP Paribas Exane. “The rise in interest rates as well as the lack of primary issuance in Europe have weighed heavily on the region and has also held back investor activity in the market.”
Meanwhile, the broker-dealer landscape has seen consolidation, with a number of high-profile combinations announced in both Europe and the U.S., Gallagher said. “The drivers of this consolidation vary but a central theme is having broader scale either by geography, additional product, or increased balance sheet,” he said.
But amid a relatively stable regulatory landscape, top brokers in the region have risen to this year’s challenges, according to respondents to Institutional Investor’s 2023 Developed Europe Trading Team survey.
JPMorgan Chase earned the overall top spot in this year’s survey, based on the votes of 273 individual traders and portfolio managers across 233 firms. It was followed by UBS in second and Goldman Sachs in third. BNP Paribas Exane secured fourth and Morgan Stanley rounded out the top five.
In addition to the overall top-ten leaderboard, respondents were asked to rank the top providers for electronic trading, high-touch trading, portfolio trading, and delta one/ETFs.
BNP Paribas Exane was No. 1 overall for high-touch sales trading, followed by UBS in second. Goldman Sachs placed third.
In overall electronic trading, JPMorgan topped the leaderboard, followed by Goldman Sachs in second, and Morgan Stanley in third. In the overall portfolio/program trading category, UBS was No. 1 and JPMorgan placed second, with Morgan Stanley capturing third.
Jane Street took first in the overall Delta One/ETF category, followed by Flow Traders B.V. in second and Goldman Sachs in third.
Gallagher reported that BNP Paribas made major investments in its prime and electronic execution businesses, which have given it scale with hedge fund clients. Additionally, the 2021 Exane acquisition gave the firm a full global equities offering with deep institutional trading relationships. “Our strength in Europe on the broader capital markets and distribution side makes us a key partner for firms that are investing in Europe,” he said.
Two years on, Gallagher reported that it was also an “exciting year of investment” into BNP Paribas Exane’s cash equities trading franchise. “We are increasing our global footprint with significant investment in our U.S. platform,” he said. “Through the recent disruption and consolidation in the market, we have been able to hire top new people and improve the talent, scope, and seniority in our trading teams.” These included a trader dedicated to block trading, a leading European event trading team, and a senior hire to help build out a centralized risk offering and liquidity offering.
Gallagher predicted that the remainder of 2023 will feel similar to the first eight months of the year, but there is room for optimism looking toward 2024. “With the Fed likely finished increasing rates, it should provide some stability to the market. All the economic data seems to point to an improving equity market,” he concluded. “While the primary market issuance is at the lows, the pipeline is fairly robust and should soon re-open more meaningfully.”