Cowen Prime Services - Best North American Prime Broker

It's been a year since Cowen Group acquired Concept Capital (now known as Cowen Prime Services) and it's safe to say that the year has been a productive one. Soon after Concept's acquisition, Cowen Group also acquired the Conifer Securities prime brokerage and outsourced trading business. 

As Jack Seibald, Global Co-Head of Prime Brokerage, Cowen Prime Services confirms, since April this year, when the Conifer business was merged into Cowen Prime Services' existing broker-dealer, the combined team has been busy integrating the businesses and commenced operating as one group. 

"We've now accomplished that and successfully integrated personnel and systems," says Seibald, who adds: "We now have a single entity under a common brand with a focused mission and a singular team executing on that mission. What's been particularly gratifying over the past year is that the PB sales team have been making introductions to accounts for our outsourced trading business, and the outsourced trading team have been making introductions to accounts for our prime brokerage services."

More importantly, though, is the fact that the Cowen institutional team has developed a clear understanding of Cowen Prime Services and how it fits in with the wider group, such that the team has started to make introductions that have turned into clients; either prime brokerage or outsourced trading clients. 

"Cowen has a strong presence in the institutional research, sales and trading business, but did not have much of a presence in the emerging manager space. The prime brokerage business had a presence in the emerging manager space, but not the institutional space. And a lot of emerging managers typically come out of these larger institutions. So the integration of prime brokerage and outsourced trading under the Cowen umbrella is starting to show real traction. 

"We've onboarded a number of new clients over the summer which have been a direct result of the work done by the Cowen institutional team," confirms Seibald. 

Cowen Prime Services is now able to compete far more effectively with the bigger primes for pieces of business that would previously have been out of reach. Seibald says: "If I were to take a snapshot of the business today, prime brokerage is approximately 60% of business revenues and outsourced trading is 40%. However, the rate of new business development for the previous quarter has been noticeably tilted towards outsourced trading."

Seibald confirms that Cowen Prime Services continues to win mandates from larger primes "who are going through their editing process because of the continued balance sheet constraints they face and return on asset requirements that need to improve under Basel III. 

"This month we will be onboarding two good-sized clients with lengthy track records who are coming from a recognised and respected bulge bracket prime. The common theme seems to be a diminished level of attention and support from their existing provider and a desire for a more high-touch level of client service. All of which is helping to increase our aggregate client AUM in custody."

On winning this year's award, Seibald comments: "Earning this recognition from Hedgeweek's subscribers is very gratifying for our entire team. In the end, however, it's all about being the best possible partner to our clients that allows them to focus on delivering returns for their investors. That's what our team is focused on every day.

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James Williams
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