Investment banks, in the true sense, are financial intercessors, amongst people who need funds and people who can provide funds. They ensure that there is a flow of cash and distribution of capital. In a simple example, they are the bridge that brings together, those who need money to invest in businesses, like factories with equipment demands, with those, who have the money to invest, all the while, forming the markets which allow capital and controls price for these monetary trades.
Over time these financial intermediaries have evolved and have gotten more complex and competitive. And hence have started offering many supplementary amenities.
Investment Banks essentially have two lines of activities.
- Sell Side - here securities are traded not only for cash but at times for other securities like for example, in facilitating transactions.
- Buy Side – this is the advising lateral, where to advise on entities like, Private Equity Fund, Mutual Funds, Hedge Funds, is given to establishments that are concerned with buying investment services.
Core activities of Investment Banking can be better explained in three major divisions.
Front Office, the Middle Office and the Back Office.
Front Office, is generally known as the revenue generating unit, this is where most of Investment Banking contracts take place. It offers many services, namely assisting firms in Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Finance I.e. managing fund requirements for daily operations. It also offers Professional Investment Management for establishments. For certain high net worth clientele, preparing Market Research Reports, around Strategy Management and Wealth Distribution and Risk Reports. And lastly, it also involved in Sales and Trading activities for their clientele.
Middle Office, includes functions of Compliance with government regulations and restrictions for professional clients like the banks and financial divisions etc…,
It also manages Capital Flow, basically, the function is to monitor the flow of cash in and out from an establishment, to ensure required liquidity for it to function, without getting into any financial difficulties.
Back Office, it is the glue that holds the investment bank together. It primarily manages the Operations and Technology, for things such as Trade Confirmations, safeguarding that the securities bought are correct, sold and settled for the right amount. To ensure the software and technology platforms are efficient, at times creating relevant trading algorithms, so that traders can function effortlessly.
Investment Banking is significant for corporates as they need to raise capital. By taking the above-mentioned functions into reflection, the area of opportunity for investment banking is huge. Therefore, to stay updated, financial handlers should take stock of the development around them, so that they can adapt and take advantage of the offerings.