Key themes from Q4 2014 earnings calls
During the Q4 2014 earnings season, management at banks across North America, Europe and Japan reviewed key accomplishments in 2014 and set out their expectations for 2015.
The overall assessment was that the operating environment was difficult in 2014. Challenges intensified during the last quarter of the year as a series of macroeconomic and geopolitical shocks exacerbated the ongoing impact of historically low interest rates and episodic periods of extreme volatility.
Despite this, banks in all regions viewed 2014 as a productive year, and management detailed progress against strategic plans. As Citigroup CEO Mike Corbat observed, “While the overall results for 2014 fell short of our expectations, we did make significant progress towards our priorities. And while some of the steps we took were painful, I believe they allowed us to put our franchise in a position to have a successful 2015.”
Comments on the outlook for 2015 reflect expectations that banks will face ongoing challenges, including:
- Unpredictable legal and conduct impacts
- Headwinds related to regulatory reforms
- Turbulent macroeconomic conditions
While certain positive trends related to lending growth, credit quality and dividends have emerged and are strengthening, management at some banks appear to believe that the bad will outweigh the good, at least in the near term.
(For more information about Q4 2014 earnings calls and the top 10 themes, download the full report.)
Top 10 themes: a quarter-over-quarter comparison
Note: Theme shaded in yellow is new to the list this quarter; theme shaded in dark gray dropped out of the top 10. Please see Appendix for ranking of themes.×