The world's 12 largest investment banks endured their slowest start since the financial crisis, in what's typically their most lucrative period.
Their revenue fell 25 per cent in the first quarter from a year ago as a wave of volatility rippled through financial markets, according to research by industry analytics firm Coalition.
European bank shares hit multi-year lows in February amid fears about the slowing Chinese economy, as well as credit losses from energy companies hobbled by low oil prices. They'd already been blighted by low returns on their equity, spiralling legal costs and regulatory uncertainty.
It comes as UBS chairman, Axel Weber, warned that the ailing European banking sector still faces many challenges. "Given the uncertainty in markets, many of our clients are stepping away from trading," he told CNBC today.
"Even in wealth management, the uncertain environment means that a lot of the clients sit on cash and avoid long-term decisions and really are not very active and that's a very difficult model to be in … it's a difficult environment still."
"This year there is huge uncertainty in global markets, major political decisions to be taken in the US and the UK, so I think a lot of people are waiting for the dust to settle."
Fixed income, currencies and commodities trading slumped 28 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter to $17.8bn (£12.3bn), while equities revenues slumped 20 per cent during this period to $11.7bn.
Investment banking divisions suffered a 25 per cent decline to $7.8bn, while equity capital markets plunged 58 per cent to $1.1bn.
Coalition looked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Societe Generale and UBS.