Gillian Tan is a Bloomberg Gadfly columnist covering deals and private equity. She previously was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. She is a qualified chartered accountant.

America First sounds just about right to one corner of Wall Street -- at least when it comes to doing business.

Shares of U.S. independent investment banks have soared since Donald Trump's presidential victory, with Houlihan Lokey Inc. surging to a record on Friday and Evercore Partners Inc. climbing some 18 percent since the Nov. 8 election to a reach an all-time high this week.

In some cases, the firms' gains have eclipsed those of their larger, deposit-rich rivals even though independents aren't in store for the same earnings boost if rates trend higher as expected and financial regulations are eased. But most of these advisory firms have something going for them that helps to justify their rally: a U.S.-centric client base and revenue stream.

Home Field Advantage
Evercore Partners. which last week named a Goldman veteran as its new chairman, has climbed some 18 percent since Nov. 8, in part due to its sizable U.S. exposure
Source: Bloomberg
Post-Election Pop
Since Nov. 8, some independent investment banks have outperformed traditional money center rivals
Source: Bloomberg
*Includes traditional money center banks such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo & JP Morgan Chase

If U.S. tax reform leads to a cut in corporate levies, independents will have an advantage over more globally-diversified rivals. Prospects are perhaps the brightest for the likes of Houlihan Lokey, which leads the pack with nearly 90 percent of its revenues earned onshore. Further, if Trump's protectionist sentiments lead to a prolonged pause in cross-border deals, U.S.-focused investment banks will be somewhat insulated from any loss in fees. 

Home of the Brave
Independent banks may benefit from their enhanced U.S. exposure
Source: Bloomberg, company filings
*Data as at Dec. 31, 2015. All other data as at Sept. 30, 2016 ^Greenhill's geographical split includes North America, not just the U.S.

Independent banks could also see their advisory revenue spike if U.S. companies are encouraged to repatriate foreign cash under a new tax regime. If companies can finance their own deals from large cash piles, that could mean independents won't be forced to split as many fees with large money center banks such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp., which can be handed advisory roles if they provide financing. 

Repatriation would also be positive for firms such as Greenhill & Co., which held $39.4 million of its $55.8 million of cash and cash equivalents balance outside the U.S. at Sept. 30. 

Stay Focused
Lazard is trading at a discount to peers, in part due to its outsize European exposure
Source: Bloomberg

Lazard Ltd., which has a larger asset management business than its peers and derives some 34 percent of its revenue from Europe, is now the cheapest of the bunch after lagging behind competitors in the recent rally. Diversification, it seems, can land you in the penalty box these days.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Gillian Tan in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Beth Williams at