Money managers and corporate executives agree: JPMorgan Chase & Co. is top dog when it comes to corporate access, according to Institutional Investor’s annual ranking of America’s Top Corporate Access Providers.
Not only was JPMorgan chosen by the buy side as the country’s best corporate access provider for the sixth year in a row, the New York-based bank also overthrew CitiGroup, Barclays, and Robert W. Baird & Co. to be the top-ranked firm from the corporate point-of-view.
In the 2017 ranking of America’s Top Corporate Access Providers, voters picked the sell-side firms that do the best job of bringing executives and investors together. This year’s results were based on responses from 2,052 money managers representing the buy-side point-of-view and 493 participants representing the corporate point-of-view.
In the last year, investors have been particularly concerned about making time to meet face-to-face with executives, according to Amy Junker, head of global corporate access and associate director of research at Baird.
“Investors continue to really value one-on-one time with companies,” Junker said by phone. “It starts with having strong relationships with firms that want to work with us. It comes with the quality of our research, insights from our sales, and a robust corporate access team.”
Those firms that are able to facilitate strong conferences, road shows, and one-on-one meetings with corporations are the ones that tend to be favored by investors, she added.
For this year’s ranking, corporate and buy-side participants rated sell-side firms on services including hosting investor conferences, communicating and executing corporate access logistics, arranging meetings between investors and executives, facilitating site visits and factory tours, organizing non-deal roadshows, and providing in-depth and quality feedback between corporations and investors on an ongoing basis.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch was voted the No. 2 corporate access provider by money managers, moving up from fourth place in 2016 and toppling Morgan Stanley, which dropped to third. Barclays also fell down a rung in the buy-side ranking, from third place to fourth.
From the corporate point-of-view, Barclays was the second-best firm. beating out Baird and Citi, which tied with Barclays for first place last year. This year, Baird placed third, while Citi fell to sixth.
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Asked about challenges facing the sell-side, Junker cited the low-volatility environment, which “continues to be a headwind for everyone,” she said. “At some point volatility will return. That’s impacting the whole industry.”
The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index hovered around 10 this summer, staying close to record lows despite geopolitical challenges including the threat of nuclear war between the United States and North Korea.
In addition to current market challenges, the sell-side also faces the impending implementation of MiFID II, the update to Europe’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive that will unbundle research from investment banking.
Junker called the regulation a “profound change,” but added that her firm wasn’t too worried about it. Gary James, head of equities client strategy at Barclays, expressed a similar view.
“We are positive on the MiFID II preparation we have done and the importance of getting this right for Barclays and our clients,” he said.