Managing future uncertainties through scenario analysis: : A case study on European financial markets from the perspective of a stock exchange

University essay from KTH/Skolan för industriell teknik och management (ITM); KTH/Skolan för industriell teknik och management (ITM)

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to investigate how scenario analysis can be used to strategically prepare for the future during uncertain times. The purpose is also to identify uncertainties and trends that could shape the future European financial markets and to develop projections of alternative futures on which a stock exchange could base their strategic decisions. A literature review was conducted which provides insights and tools in order to perform a scenario analysis. This study then investigates how scenario analysis can be applied to European financial markets with a time horizon of 10 years, from the perspective of the case company Nasdaq. The investigation is conducted as an instrumental case study where 12 respondents within Europe’s financial markets have been interviewed. Five of the respondents are case company employees and seven of the respondents are external that cover a wide range of specialties within financial markets. The results show that there are eight key drivers that were considered important and uncertain for the development of European financial markets by year 2030. Four interpretations of these drivers that the case company considered the most interesting were combined into six scenario matrices which resulted in 24 unique scenarios. Three of these were described in detail where future business environments were evaluated through the use of the theoretical framework Porter’s five forces. The scenarios presented in this study are: • Scenario 1: Further globalization and increased competition from alternative marketplaces. • Scenario 2: There has been a further consolidation of stock exchanges and exchanges have remained the dominant marketplace for financial products. • Scenario 3: Brexit will have a major impact on financial markets and more regional economies. The scenarios show how some of the identified drivers could shape the future business environment. These projections of alternative futures can be used by a stock exchange in their strategic decision making and enables the multi-level strategic conversation within the organization to develop and continue. Such a conversation helps establish a shared mental model of the external environment and the organization itself. Since the business environment is ever changing, the aim is to continuously use scenario analysis to evaluate and improve strategic discussions. It also allows organizations to learn and change from its own experiences to identify new opportunities. And since there can be no learning without action, the ultimate aim of scenario analysis is to make an impact on strategic decisions by taking reflection-based action.

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