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New investment banking models: ‘capital-lite’, ‘agency’ and ‘client-clearing’

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Regulation is driving change in capital market structure, and as highlighted in the future of investment banking, banks continue to move towards a ‘capital-lite’ business model, as they seek to ‘optimise’ use of and return on capital.

The introduction of mandatory trading and clearing for standardised swaps (SEFs in US and OTF and MTFs in Europe) has resulted in higher capital charges for OTC bilateral trades, and reduced the appetite of banks to warehouse and hold inventory which is moving more banks towards a ‘capital lite’ model.

This is the backdrop to the announcement that JP Morgan the setting up a 150 strong fixed income agency execution desk called JP Morgan Execution Services (JPMES), to run alongside its principal trading operations.

At first sight, it looks as if JP Morgan is simply hedging its bets and backing both agency and principal business models. However,

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