January 28, 2013

Banks, please, go get yourselves a new class of shareholders

Sir, John Authers writes that bank returns on equity are projected to fall from around 20 percent to 7 percent, much because of new capital requirements coming up in Basel III, “Bank´s adjustment to the IT threat has barely begun” January 28.

And then he describes and analyzes some suggestion of McKinsey on how banks should confront this change. Strangely enough I do not see this change of return in bank equity viewed from the perspective of a change in its risk profile, or the suggestion of “go get yourselves a new class of shareholders”.

If the 7 percent on equity bank returns are perceived to derive from a much safer operation there is no reason why bank division currently valued at 60 percent of their book value by investors in search of big returns, could not be valued at least at one time book value by pension funds, insurance companies and widows or orphans in search of more stability.

In fact the real economy would probably very much welcome the banks becoming less of the biggest beneficiary of it.