A graduate of the University of Leeds, Ben started his career in Transaction Services at KPMG before working as Financial Controller at Innocent Drinks. He also worked as an Equity Analyst at Citigroup where he covered the Retail sector for over five years. Ben joined Exane in 2012 as a Research Analyst and headed Exane's top-rated General Retail franchise until 2014 before taking over as the Head of the Equity Research Department. Ben held this role for four years before being appointed as Head of Cash Equities in 2018.
Exane BNP Paribas ranked in first place in Institutional Investor Survey for five years in a row. What do you think makes this business stand-out?
There's no big secret to it... we're fortunate to work with an exceptional group of talented people with a strong desire to deliver top quality Advisory & Execution services to our clients. Our focus helps us a lot. As a dedicated Cash Equities business, we devote all of our energies to being the best we can in this market. This means we can invest for the long-term, attract and retain the very best people in the industry and adapt rapidly to our clients' changing needs.
The Research of Exane BNP Paribas is recognized by the main surveys today. How does our Research differentiate from the other actors of the market, according to you?
We think our competitive edge is clearly in the calibre of our Research and the experience of our analysts. In the past decade, we have prioritised developing best technical analysts and hiring only the most highly ranked analysts in each sector. Today, according to the 2021 Institutional Investor Survey, we have the top ranked Research team in 16 of 30 equity sectors, from Autos & Auto Parts to Utilities. This means that if a fund manager is looking at a new industry in Europe for the first time, there is an odds-on chance that we have the top ranked team covering that sector. Our senior analysts also have an average of at least 15 years of experience. We find that the best analysts are not only book-smart and gifted in terms of technical analysis; it also helps if they have lived through a crisis or two. In an industry that is undergoing significant "juniorisation," this clearly sets us apart from the competition.
What are the biggest challenges in the Cash Equities business today and how is Exane BNP Paribas adapting to them?
Europe's equity industry has changed so much in the last few years. Regulation, technology and economic/political uncertainty have been incredibly powerful disruptive forces. We definitely feel that as a large regional provider, we were able to stay fully focused on these huge shifts. That meant we could adapt more quickly to the changing needs of our clients. Staying focused on our clients' needs in Execution, Research, Sales and Corporate Access is the best way for us to stay relevant.
What are the main growth projects for the Cash Equities business?
MiFID II has brought a lot more scrutiny to the value brokers provide. Investors are very disciplined about what they use and how they value it. But different investors need different things. So, what we have learned is that we now have to be more focused than ever on the specific needs of our individual clients if we want to maximise the value we add to their investment process. We'll continue to invest in areas where we think we can have a positive impact on our clients. We're going to keep expanding our coverage and selectively look beyond our European roots.