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A league table is a listing of investment banks organized with the use of a rankings system. People can consult the league table for a quick overview of the financial positions of investment banks and this information can be used to make decisions about where to do business and what kinds of investments to trust. League tables are published by a number of organizations and financial magazines, and they can be found readily online, as well as in professional publications.
Some organizations that make league tables have been collecting data and releasing tables for decades. Their archives can be a useful resource for tracking the fortunes of investment banks while using common and consistent measures of performance. Newer companies don't have the advantage of archives but may present data in new and interesting ways that provide additional context, insight, and other information.
Compilers of league tables consider issues like assets, amount of underwriting, earnings, revenues, size, acquisitions, mergers, and a variety of other topics. This data is pulled together in a chart of institutions, with the values in columns and each row representing a separate bank. The league table may include a numerical ranking generated by the company that makes the table, using a formula that incorporates several different metrics of performance.
Investment banks want to rank high in the league table. The higher the rank on a league table, the bigger and more stable the bank is. Lower rated banks may have limited assets or may be experiencing financial problems and a low rating can make it harder to attract and keep customers. Newer banks tend to start out low because they have not yet acquired the clout to land major clients and initiate big projects. Part of their work is focused on rapid expansion so that they can appeal to more customers with a higher ranking.
League tables can be used by everyone from companies discussing the choice of an investment bank to use as an underwriter for an initial public offering, to government regulators interested in monitoring the performance of financial institutions. They are released at set intervals. Publication of league tables is usually announced in the financial media, with some details provided so that people can decide if they want to seek out the full report. Archived league tables are available online, through libraries that maintain financial information, and directly from the companies that make them.