The above sentiment tracking index also reflects an industry-wide shift to greater transparency. It appears that many throughout the financial sector are gaining a better appreciation for investor confidence and are taking steps to preserve and increase it whenever possible. The trend could also be considered a preemptive move to placate regulatory bodies which favor greater transparency. The Charles Schwab Corp. (NYSE: SCHW) joined a growing list of U.S. money market fund managers that have all agreed to publish daily fund asset values. Prior to this, fund managers typically posted monthly values and even those were on a 60-day delay.
The movement towards greater transparency also illustrates an increased willingness on behalf of the financial sector to address regulatory issues before they become problematic. The threat of further regulatory changes will always loom over the financial sector and investors would be wise to closely follow any potential adjustments.
Efforts to become efficient and shed underperforming assets are also still ongoing for many companies within the industry. Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) announced this week that it plans to reduce its Asian investment banking workforce by around 15%. The move to reduce its workforce in the region could be in response to its declining position in certain areas of the Asian markets. A slowing Chinese economy could also be behind the company's decision to dial back its employee count in the region.Moving forward, if trade volumes can bounce back, brokerages and money managers may be in-line for substantial gains this year. Even without a significant improvement, the outlook for the industry is currently positive because the economy keeps moving in a forward direction while internal efforts to improve are also ongoing. Another round of fiscal cliff concerns could certainly undo some of the industry's progress though.