Anyone questioning London’s ascendancy in global capital markets need look no farther than Morgan Stanley. After a series of management changes announced on Wednesday, no other Wall Street firm will have repositioned as many top dogs to the British capital. This is the clearest reflection yet that the growth in the investment banking business won’t be coming from the domestic US market.
Indeed, once Walid Chammah moves to London, Morgan Stanley’s Canary Wharf offices will house its most senior investment banker, its global head of mergers and acquisitions, the chief operating officer of its securities division, and its global head of capital markets. Other firms have repositioned senior managers to London—Goldman Sachs Group Inc. earlier this year located its own operating chief there.
The reasons are manifold. First and foremost is London’s geography. By straddling the time zones of Asia and North America, a globally focused executive can wake up speaking with colleagues in Tokyo and pass the Jag ride home directing charges in New York. London is also more conveniently situated than New York for courting executives in Russia, China, West Asia and India—the four horsemen of future industry growth.
This understandably creates anxiety in Congress or Mike Bloomberg’s City Hall—think of all the tax revenues lost when big earners move domicile. But the bigger picture is still a healthy one for American finance.
While their employees may move from Murray Hill to Mayfair and speak accented English, US investment banks are still leading the charge in capital markets.