It has been a roller coaster year for traders and brokers in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The past year has required us and our clients to operate in two very different trading environments, particularly in the Hong Kong and Chinese markets,” said Patrick Kelly, Head of Cash Equities, Asia Pacific at Credit Suisse. . “The first quarter of 2021 saw a euphoric rally on record volumes, while the second half of the year saw a much more challenging trading environment, with reduced liquidity and increased volatility.”
Total revenue in Asia-Pacific jumped from March to August 2021 to a peak of more than $260 billion, then fell by the end of the year to around $200 billion a day, according to Credit Suisse reports. But with average daily revenue for 2021 of $210 billion, regional volumes remained well above those of 2019 and 2020.
To navigate this bifurcated world, Kelly said the company has invested in its Advanced Execution Services suite of algorithms, which has allowed Credit Suisse to quickly adapt to this new trading regime.
Sara Perring, head of APAC cash distribution at JP Morgan, confirmed that the region has had its ups and downs this year. “The APAC region continues to evolve, with ever-developing market structure and liquidity, which is both a challenge and an opportunity,” she said.
Perring cited global geopolitical tensions, combined with the macro backdrop and evolving Covid-related restrictions in APAC, as contributing to continued market disruption and uncertainty. “Being consistent in product and service offerings across all APAC markets and bringing the breadth and depth of our global franchise has been crucial to our partnership with customers,” she added.
This consistency and investment has not gone unnoticed, as Credit Suisse and JP Morgan are among the group of firms most recognized for trading and execution in Institutional Investor’s seventh annual All-Asia Trading Team survey.
II surveyed Asian equity traders outside Japan, asking them to rate brokers on various attributes – such as market access and liquidity and quality of service and support – for trading and execution. The attributes have been aggregated to produce the best brokers in all of Asia, e-commerce and portfolio trading.
Additionally, this year’s survey results recognized the top three local brokers in Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand , Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, as well as frontier markets in Asia. .
Morgan Stanley once again took the top spot in Pan-Asian trading and execution, while JP Morgan moved up a spot to second with UBS coming in third.
Morgan Stanley also leads in portfolio trading, followed by JP Morgan in second place, and Macquarie rounds out the top three companies praised for attributes ranging from index and portfolio research to settlement reliability.
For high-touch sell trading, UBS has been elevated to pole position from third place last year, based on its ability to access block, small- and mid-cap liquidity, maintain anonymity of orders and minimize market impact, among other attributes. JP Morgan repeated its second place, followed by BofA Securities.
Charles Chiang, head of APAC equities at JP Morgan, attributed his company’s performance as a leading trading team to a “collaborative team culture, cutting-edge technology and consistency across markets and regions. “.
“We have gradually improved our execution service and upgraded our trading platforms over the past few years,” he added. “Our traders take a dedicated approach to their clients’ trading needs while providing best-in-class tools to help clients stay focused on their goals.”
Chiang acknowledged the year’s volatility in the region, where his company has a strong presence. “Our comprehensive regional offering has allowed us to continue to serve our customers at the highest level in all weathers,” he said. “We have well-planned strategies to deal with the most volatile trading days of the year, such as responding to market catalysts in a millisecond environment on some of the ultra-low latency trading days.”
Liquidity in the region remains a top priority for clients, according to Credit Suisse’s Kelly. Credit Suisse has addressed this issue by developing new internal systems to identify and manage natural liquidity across trading desks, maximizing opportunities for clients to cross orders and reducing transaction costs.
Credit Suisse was once again the winner in the electronic trading category, with buy-side trading desks giving the firm top marks for customization and algorithm performance, in addition to market access and transparency. UBS and BofA Securities ranked second and third respectively.
Buyer adoption of algorithm wheels, which automate routing, continues to grow in APAC and has increased nearly 50% in the past four years, according to Credit Suisse’s Kelly. “As such, Credit Suisse’s electronic trading offering has evolved to meet the bespoke requirements of different clients,” he said. “This ranges from quantitative tested adjustments to volume curves to achieve specific wheel targets, to more adaptive models that incorporate volatility and price prediction.”
“Our new electronic trading infrastructure platform improves stability and allows for greater customization of algorithms to respond to different market conditions, thereby improving performance in times of volatility,” he added.
Looking ahead, Credit Suisse has added market structure and quantitative product specialists to its APAC trading team as opportunities in the region – particularly China and its Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) program ) – continue to open. “China will continue to be a key growth area for trading via Stock Connect and QFII, and we see opportunities there as the market becomes increasingly institutionalized and foreign fund inflows increase,” concluded Kelly.