January 7, 2016

2015 Year in Review: Capital Financing

EGM Capital Financing, Steve Lambert, discusses two common themes that were present over the past 12 months - Innovation and volatility. It seems that 2015 saw more firsts in the market while at the same time it seeemed markets were closing just as quickly as they opened.

2015 saw turmoil in the markets balanced with innovation – with the aim of solving customer’s needs always coming first.

Looking back over this year, there were two common themes that come to mind, and were present over the past 12 months. Innovation and volatility. One doesn’t necessarily lead to another, and quite often you don’t get them together, but it seems that 2015 saw more firsts in the market while at the same time it seemed that markets were closing just as quickly as they opened.

We saw the year kick off with open markets and a continuation of the steady issuance we experienced throughout the end of 2014. I was quite proud of the team when NAB issued our first Climate Bond into the Australian market. With our strong focus on clean energy and shared value, this deal wasn’t just a mark of innovation for the team, but a mark of innovative thinking on behalf of the organisation. It paved the way for similar transactions and really cements NAB’s commitment to our corporate responsibility plan and doing the right thing – by customers, and by community.

NAB has continued on the path of innovation, bringing many other firsts to the market this year. This year I was pleased to see we were able to take an Australian wind farm to the USPP market. Supporting our Australian and New Zealand customers offshore is core to NAB’s strategy and purpose, and this is just one more way we do it. We’ve always had a solid position in renewables in Australia and the UK, but branching out to the States provides another platform for this growing industry.

Funding diversity for our customers is even more important when volatility hits. The USPP market didn’t just open opportunities for wind farms, but it also brought diversification for Australian universities. We also took Associated British Ports to the USPP market – our first debt capital markets role with them. It’s this ability to match needs and connect customer to customer, during times of uncertainty that puts our product agnostic approach at the forefront.

Throughout the year we also experienced changing governments both here in Australia and in the UK. Couple this with the pending election in the USA and the impact this will have on economic policy and you get a lot of borrowers and investors waiting, and watching to see what happens. With Greece’s debt crisis kicking it off, the markets opened and closed on a daily basis, depending on which one you were in, and what you were trying to issue. Eventually it seemed they all shut for a while, and as we enter the end of 2015 it appears they are finding their feet again. I can’t be certain, but I do think we’ll need to get used to this as we go through the next year. With the USA elections not on until November 2016, the FOMC still undecided on raising rates and rising geopolitical risk, markets will remain volatile.

The markets aren’t the only thing to impact both NAB and our customers. As we go forward we’re facing challenges through regulation, demographic changes, fintech disruptors, and changing trade and capital flows. As I say, if you’re not doing something new today, you’re already behind tomorrow, and this hasn’t been any truer than now. Societal changes are demanding more of banks and our customers every day, and much of this is in the digital space and customer experience. Minor players who are well advanced with technological services can easily fill these gaps, and being nimble enough to match them is imperative for established companies as we head into 2016.

Various free trade agreements are changing the landscape of trade which will flow on to investment and growth over the next few years. Some people will see change as a negative, but others look for the opportunities. For NAB this opens up more opportunities to support our customers as they build and grow their businesses, by providing access to funding in new and diverse markets.

So, as we close on 2015 and head into 2016, innovation and volatility look to remain at the forefront of the market. However, where other see barriers, I look forward to finding solutions to meet our customer’s needs.

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