For over 30 years, I have spent many long days on the 21st floor, overlooking the city of Portland. The number of cranes seem to multiply daily. The city is booming, more traffic, less parking, more urban issues to deal with. The city around me is changing rapidly as is the financial world. I am a low tech woman learning to adapt to a high tech world.
As an active participant in the capital markets, I am not surprised to say that the magnitude and speed of change in the last five years has been greater than I experienced the preceding 30 years. The rise of passive investment securities, a steady decline in the number of available traditional securities, shadow banking, more and more data being parsed, and the tools to measure data have all shifted into high gear. Even more of a challenge with the constant flow of information is identifying what is real and what is noise. Disinformation seems to spread more rapidly than the facts. A morning tweet can change the direction of the entire market.
Twenty years ago, there were over 7,000 publicly listed US stocks, today there are less than 3,900. The number of passive investment vehicles has increased from a few hundred to over 5,000. There are more ETFs and synthetic baskets of stocks, than there are actual stocks.
We have witnessed companies being merged or acquired, think ATT acquiring Time Warner, CVS acquiring Aetna or Berkshire Hathaway buying Pacific Power and Precision Castparts. As of the end of December 2018, there were over 5,100 private equity funds sitting on lots of cash waiting for opportunities to take more companies private. Prior to 2008, there were frequently new companies coming to market, adding to the number of available stocks to buy. Now, IPOs are fewer and fewer…the cost and regulations to become a publicly traded company have become more onerous. Cash infusions from private equity firms are far less burdensome than going public.
Improved technology has brought faster trading and more information being downloaded at light speed.
Many of these changes have been to our clients’ benefit. Lower fees, better reporting, increased analytical capabilities are good things for our clients. Improvements in technology, while often frustrating at first, have enabled many of these enhancements. (Though some of these changes seem to be a step in the wrong direction, witness my cell phone’s continual stream of e-mails that have become a 24/7 digital leash!)
Our mission at Becker Capital is to serve our clients to the best of our ability and then continue improving that ability. Integral to this mission is our willingness to adapt to changes in our industry while remaining true to our core firm philosophy. That is what we come to work every day to achieve and are so very fortunate to have the opportunity to do so. If you haven’t been introduced to our growing array of services, please let us know and we will be excited to have the opportunity to tell you more. Join us for the everchanging view from the 21st floor or feel free to use any mode of communication you like…even digital!