Happy Surprises

VOL. 38  NO. 4

One of the advantages of  being a journalist is the unique opportunity of spotting trends, even potential ones, before they become mainstream. In this issue, we bring to light two clear examples of often unnoticed trends. One pertains to the investment banking sector, and the other to the future of environmental, social and governance (ESG) regulations and new financial instruments.

A simple look at the situation around the world would miss significant details in each case. For investment banking, the analysis we did to assign our annual awards in the sector, according to different geographies and financial instruments, shows that while the market overall has a tough 2023, there are segments and countries where growth was significant. And there are—no surprise—outperformers among the banks. Add to that the emergence of some new players on the advisory side, and the strengthening of some existing players, and you understand that summarizing 2023 as simply “a poor year for equity issuance and M&A” is entirely inaccurate and incomplete.

In the case of ESG, the surprise presented in our cover story is different. We looked at Asia to understand whether the trends around ESG follow the political backlash registered in the US with a drop in issuance of specific sustainability financial products or follow the European lead,  where ESG criteria still top the agenda for many corporates. In Europe, specific sustainability product issuances are at record levels and keeps growing. And in Asia? Issuance is at record levels and grows probably more than in the rest of the world, and regulation is also growing fast in most Asian markets. Environmental, social, and governance issues are still at the center of corporate life worldwide, and there is no sign of political backlash outside the US.

Andrea Fiano | Editor at Large