02.09.2017
By Rob Daly

Trade Like it’s 2011

Just how much nostalgia can the long-besieged trading sector expect from the new — and decidedly deregulation-leaning — presidential administration?

A return to the free-wheeling time of a decade ago is too much to ask. But a return to the reasonably robust time of six years ago might be realistic.

Banks and broker-dealers may see the return of proprietary trading as President Trump, Congress, and market regulators move to roll back various post-2008 financial crisis rules and regulations, said Howard Lutnick, chairman and CEO of BGC Partners, during his firm’s fourth -quarter earnings call.

Howard Lutnick,
BGC Partners

“I don’t know that the balance sheets will grow as they did, but just the volume of transactions would improve demonstrably heading us back towards those levels,” he said. “We are not talking about 2007 levels. We’re talking about 2011. I think you will see meaningful progress along those lines.”

However, the US capital markets likely would have to wait until Dodd-Frank’s Volcker Rule, as well as other rules and regulations, drop away in the US and a post-Brexit UK, Lutnick noted.

“You possibly could see more trading,” he said.

Such regulatory changes would be beneficial for BGC clients and the firm, agreed Shaun Lynn, president of BGC Partners during the call.

“Over time, the overall industry could return to activity levels seen a few years ago,” he said.

Lynn noted that in 2011, BGC Partners and GFI’s combined revenue, excluding’s GFI Trayport business generated a combined revenue of $2.2 billion.

“That is more than 40% greater than was recorded in 2016,” he said.

In the meantime, BGC Partners witnessed the revenue of its financial services business drop 5%, to $350.9 million, in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared to the same period of the previous year.

Lynn attributed the shortfall to the firm’s sale of its Trayport business to the Intercontinental Exchange at the end of 2015, which accounted for $15.8 million, and a $6.5-million loss due to a stronger dollar.

“Excluding these items, financial services revenue would have slightly increased,” he said.

Despite the business unit’s contraction in revenue, the inter-dealer broker plans to continue its approximately $140 million annual technology investment into its financial services business while reducing expenses by further integrating the GFI business into BGC Partners, according to Lynn.

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