JPMorgan veteran in 'shock' at M&A fees

Sunset in Tokyo, Japan

Therese Esperdy, a 17-year JPMorgan veteran, suffered what she called 'initial shock' in her first few weeks in Asia after three people told her some clients don’t want to pay merger-advisory fees.

'I thought, ‘What have I done ? I’ve moved to a region where clients don’t even pay for M&A advice. What do they pay for ?’. said Esperdy, who relocated to Hong Kong in 2011 from the firm’s New York headquarters to take charge of its advisory business and was made co-head of corporate and investment banking in the Asia-Pacific region the following year.

Bloomberg reports that the answer, it turned out, is the stuff of everyday banking: corporate payments and remittances, cash management and trade finance - what are known as transaction businesses.

'It’s a relatively unexciting but bread-and-butter business for banks', Tjun Tang, a Hong Kong-based senior partner at Boston Consulting Group, said in an interview. 'If you are the management of the bank or the shareholder, it’s actually a very attractive business because it creates a lot of sticky relationships between the banks and the customers'.

Years of contraction have put pressure on global banks including JPMorgan, Bank of America and Deutsche Bank to diversify income streams. Fees for underwriting equities and bonds, as well as advising on mergers and acquisitions, shrank 23% in the Asia-Pacific region from the beginning of 2011 through the end of 2013, even accounting for last year’s 1.4% increase, according to research firm Freeman & Co. Such fees rose 23% in the U.S. in the same period and fell 6% in Europe, the data show.

To access the complete Bloomberg article hit the link below:

Firms Suffer 23% Drop in Asia Fees Amid Search for Cash 

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