As they face up to sharp declines in fixed-income revenue and profitability, banks are looking to technology to bail them out to such an extent that top data management and analytics skills are being demanded from new sales and trading staffers, according to Greenwich Associates.
Among the 37 middle-market and 11 bulge-bracket US fixed-income dealers quizzed by Greenwich Associates, more than half saw revenues decline in their corporate bond and municipal bond businesses over the past year.
Asked how they plan to grow their business, technology is cited as the number one driver by global banks and number two by middle market dealers.
Technology has become so important that, when hiring new fixed-income sales and trading personnel, banks are prioritising data management and analytics over the fundamental analysis skills once the hallmark of any good bond trader.
The requirement for all bank staffers to better understand things previously the domain of IT teams was illustrated earlier this month when it emerged that JPMorgan is introducing mandatory coding courses for all employees in its asset management division.
"By better understanding coding, our business teams can speak the same language as our technology teams, which ultimately drives better tools and solutions for our clients," explained Mary Callahan Erdoes, head of JPMorgan Asset Management.
Greenwich says global banks are prioritising further automation of the trading process to handle more clients and more volume, using only existing human resources. Automating in this context runs the gamut from auto-responding to quote requests, to distributing post-trade analytics to customers directly.
Kevin McPartland, head, research, market structure and technology, Greenwich, says: "Relationships and balance sheet still matter, of course, but the ability to manage both of those things quantitatively can mean the difference between profit growth and a year-on-year decline."