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The views expressed are those of the authors at the time of writing. Other teams may hold different views and make different investment decisions. The value of your investment may become worth more or less than at the time of original investment. While any third-party data used is considered reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed. For professional, institutional, or accredited investors only.
The new inflationary and economic regime coupled with bank-funding-stress challenges are driving elevated volatility within financials. This is fueling a wide range of outcomes across companies as markets have engaged with the impact of higher rates and funding costs on cash flows and margins. Critically, when financials experience the extreme levels of volatility we are seeing today, we historically have witnessed meaningful shifts in market share and significant dispersion between winners and losers. In our experience, the better-positioned financials get stronger and gain share, while the weaker become even more challenged and, in many cases, either give up share or sell to generate maximum value. We believe the widening dispersion between winners and losers creates alpha opportunities in these environments.
Low interest rates, a liquidity-rich environment, and the limited-risk backdrop of recent years contributed to a “leveling of the playing field” for much of the financials services and fintech landscape. Differentiating good business models from bad was not rewarded and many lower-quality companies benefited from bad risks.
The new, higher-rate environment is not unequivocally “good” for financial services; however, higher rates and less liquidity mean that good companies can once again distinguish themselves. The key takeaway is that dispersion is back.
In addition, disruptive technologies are having a profound impact on how consumers engage with financial institutions and their products. This is another growing source of dispersion in outcomes among stocks as financial companies navigate these shifts in different ways.
Coupled with a change in the macro backdrop that has resulted in increased levels of market volatility, we believe this could be one of the more compelling environments for long/short investing since the global financial crisis.
Financials represent approximately 13% of the MSCI World Index, comprising a meaningful part of global equity markets. The financials opportunity set is large, complex, and rich given the dispersion of company leadership, quality, growth, and technology. In our view, this is fueling key themes for both long and short investing, such as:
The biggest risk to the long/short financial opportunity set (i.e., dispersion opportunity) is that we return to a period of massive policy support and potential low/no rate environment, which we view as a highly unlikely outcome given ongoing inflationary pressures.
We expect more dispersion across global financial services stocks over the next decade than we have seen in the past 25 years. The period of massive global liquidity is over. The range of outcomes as a result is wide and the impacts on global capital markets and bank balance sheets are incredibly complicated. We think dispersion across stocks, sectors, and geographies is supporting numerous secular themes in long/short investing in financials.
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