Standard Chartered has issued a trading update and it's not good. In the first half of 2014, revenues in its markets division have fallen 20%, with rates and FX especially hit. Costs across the bank are likely to be up. Full year profits are likely to be down. So far today, the bank's stock has fallen nearly 5%.
Standard Chartered's struggles are no surprise in light of the difficulties facing most banks' trading businesses. However, they are surprising given its appetite for sheltering bankers who've left other firms. As we reported earlier this week, Stan Chart has only recently hired a team of FX traders from RBS, along with Gareth Braithwaite - a senior FIG MD from Merrill Lynch.
Those FX traders may yet find they've gone from the RBS frying pan into the Standard Chartered fire. Following the poor first half, Lenny Feder, group head of financial markets at the London-based bank has taken a timely sabbatical. Chirantan Barua, a banking analyst with Bernstein Research in London, says Standard Chartered now has some difficult decisions to make. Costs are rising due to regulation and pay pressure in key markets, but revenues seem to be falling. Until now, Standard Chartered has treated its revenue problems as a cyclical issue, says Barua. Today's announcement clarifies that they are more than that and the bank may need to cut costs accordingly.