Why 2020 was a great year to work for a US bank in Asia

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Why 2020 was a great year to work for a US bank in Asia

The big US banks have now all published their fourth quarter results, and if you’re based in Asia, they make for pleasing reading.

At Morgan Stanley, 2020 revenues for Asia were up 32% year-on-year to $6,751m – that’s more than the bank made in EMEA ($6,430m). CFO Jonathan Pruzan described Asia as a “standout” as the firm delivered its strongest fourth quarter globally in more than 10 years.

Goldman Sachs saw its Asian revenues rise by 33% – from $4,653m in 2019 to $6,184m last year. Asia’s contribution to Goldman’s overall revenue inched up from 13% to 14% over the same period. Its financial results and investor presentation did not elaborate on the reasons for the regional increase. Globally, fixed income, cash equities and equity derivatives performed well for GS last year.

JPMorgan’s earnings report doesn’t break out its results by geography, but CEO Jamie Dimon said the firm enjoyed its “best year ever” in Asia in 2020, with revenues up about 20%. He told analysts that Asia is one of the “fastest growing markets in the world” for the bank.

Citi, by far the largest US bank in Asia by revenue, was somewhat of an outlier because of its consumer banking presence in the region. Asian revenues were down 1% year-on-year to $15,887m, led by a 12% drop in revenues from Citi’s Global Consumer Banking unit. “In Asia, card spending was down again, but we continue to see strong performance in wealth management,” said CFO Mark Mason.

If you work in Citi’s other division in Asia, Institutional Clients Group (ICG), you just experienced a better 2020 – revenues were up 9% to $9,416m. ICG comprises investment banking, private banking, treasury and trade solutions, and corporate lending. It therefore competes in similar sectors to Goldman, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan. At 39%, the profit margin for ICG in Asia was higher than the unit achieved in EMEA, North America and Latin America. ICG also made more absolute profits in Asia than it did in EMEA last year.

Bank of America did not announce information about its Asian franchise when it released its global results this week.

Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Email: smortlock@efinancialcareers.com or Telegram: @simonmortlock. You can also follow me on LinkedIn.

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