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Goldman Sachs' bankers having best start to 2023; Morgan Stanley's the worst

It’s been a slow start to the year for all banks – but not equally.

Data from market research firm Dealogic shows that investment banking revenues so far this year (until February the 16th, to be exact) have fallen by around a half compared to 2022. Last year started abnormally well for banks (until the start of the war in Ukraine), but 2023’s revenues are also well below any year since at least 2017.

However, while all the top banks had serious revenue declines year to date, some were hit worse than others. Goldman Sachs seems to be weathering the storm best so far in 2023 relative to 2022, and Morgan Stanley worst. Interestingly, this also holds compared to a 2018/19 baseline when conditions were more normalised. 

The comparatively large decline at Morgan Stanley comes after the bank is thought to have paid particularly disappointing bonuses to some of its senior bankers last year.

However, Morgan Stanley has been bullish on M&A in 2023. The bank’s co-heads of M&A in the Americas, Tom Miles and Brian Healy, identified four core reasons for a return to high revenues: well-capitalized companies with core business interests, well-armed financial sponsors, rising shareholder activism, and a return of cross-border M&A activity.

Morgan Stanley has also reshuffled its some of its teams. Ben Grindley and Anthony Zammit have been named to be co-heads of the bank’s UK and Ireland IB presence. Both are internal promotions; Grindley has been with the bank since at least 2015, and Zammit since 2007.

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AUTHORZeno Toulon

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