July 17, 2013

Trust in Global Financial Institutions in Second Quarter 2013 Diverges Across Regions but Remains Steady Overall

Quarterly TRust Index leverages proprietary data, analytics, news and social media sentiment

NEW YORK - Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, today announced the second quarter results from its proprietary TRust Index that measures trust in the top 50 global financial institutions. The second quarter data shows that, despite regional variations, trust and confidence in financial institutions remained relatively stable over the quarter.

“Trust does not exist in a vacuum - the rise of Europe and declines in the Americas and Asia this quarter, while modest, show that it is highly influenced by macro-economic developments, central bank policies, market conditions and regulatory climate,” said David Craig, president, Financial & Risk, Thomson Reuters. “While trust momentum overall was generally stable to positive, its sensitivity to these externals makes evident how critical the health and stability of these institutions are to our global financial ecosystem.”

Key findings for the TRust Index in the second quarter 2013 follow below:

Tracking news & social media sentiment showed that trust sentiment in the top 50 global financial institutions remained relatively stable in the second quarter, but revealed variances on a regional level:

  • For Asian financials, trust peaked in May but has declined since, likely due in part to concerns about China’s shadow banking system and fears of a liquidity squeeze after the Chinese central bank abstained from injecting money into the market.
  • Sentiment in the Americas also showed deterioration in trust for the group, possibly because of the perceived end of quantitative easing and fears of rising interest rates at the time.
  • Trust in European Financials dipped in April but then rose steadily, converging with peers by the end of the quarter, likely due in part to positive sentiment regarding privatization of UK banks.

Confidence of the marketplace differs between analysts and investors. Analysts continue to have high expectations for the top 50 financials as earnings growth estimates for the second quarter and a 5 year earnings growth rate of 8.1% show; however a -3.4% implied 5 year growth rate shows the market continues to discount the group relative to analyst growth expectations. The changes analysts made to their up/downgrade recommendations for the top 50 financials reveal:

  •  a significant measure of confidence in Asian financial institutions, as more upgrades than downgrades (31 vs 18) were made, driven largely by Japanese banks and likely due to Abenomics and the low interest rate environment.
  • a bearish outlook for Americas’ institutions, as downgrades outpaced upgrades more than 2:1 (17 vs 7), again likely the result of the Fed hinting that quantitative easing may be coming to an end, and possible interest rate increases in 2014.
  • A neutral outlook for European institutions, as the rate of downgrades to upgrades in the second quarter was roughly even.

Credit spreads, as indicators of trust between counterparties, show that after nearly a year of relative credit spread stability, there was a slight reversal of the previous trend and at the end of the second quarter a small increase was seen. However spreads are still well below 2011 levels. Spreads continue to be highest for the European institutions in the group, reflecting relative evaluations of firms located in or highly-exposed to the euro and lowest for those from Asia.

Tracking controversy and governance as factors in rebuilding trust shows that a far higher percentage of companies within the top 50 global financial group than the financial sector as a whole have been involved in various controversies. However, adoption of corporate governance policies is higher among the top 50 group than the wider financial sector as a whole, for responsible marketing, fair competition and avoidance of bribery and corruption practices.

Regulation: The proliferation of regulations over the past two years has had clear implications for the financial sector in terms of compliance burden. Taking a look at what we gauge from the regulatory arena as an indicator of trust, the number of regulatory alerts increased to almost 18,000 in 2012, from 8,704 in 2008. The number of average daily alerts now stands at 85.

“In the second quarter, we saw a number of regional developments worth noting. It is clear that trust and confidence in the market are very sensitive to macroeconomic developments and to policy decisions, especially those made by central banks,” said Scott McCleskey, global head of regulatory intelligence, Financial & Risk, Thomson Reuters. “We get a mixed view when we compare analyst forecasts for growth against our analysis of the growth rates implied by market prices. While analysts see moderate growth in the financial services industry in the medium term, the growth rate implied by markets prices actually implies negative earnings growth. Clearly one of these two views must win out, and we will continue to watch this data with interest.”

“By looking at trust through a range of analytical lenses, we are able to see not only the high-level developing trends, but the underlying currents beneath them as different participants in various regions reflect different views. These trends are certainly worth watching as we move through the third quarter,” McCleskey added. 

The Thomson Reuters TRust Index supports Thomson Reuters vision to connect and enable the global financial community. The TRust Index is based on data for the top 50 global financial institutions – the largest banks, investment banks and investment managers based on market cap – as a proxy for the sector as a whole for the period through the first-quarter 2013. It provides a number of metrics derived from Thomson Reuters proprietary news and social media sentiment analysis, analyst expectations, credit spreads and governance data. It is published on a quarterly basis.

Methodology and Sources: Thomson Reuters ASSET4, Thomson Reuters Business Classification (TRBC), Thomson Reuters Datastream, Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, Thomson Reuters MarketPsych Indices, Thomson Reuters News Analytics (TRNA), Thomson Reuters StarMine Quantitative Models.

Thomson Reuters

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