The global investment banking business set several all-time highs in 2021, according to new data from Refinitiv.

The firm reported that total investment banking fees surged by 22% last year to US$159.4 billion, which is the highest level on record.

Equity market underwriting fees were up 25% in 2021 to a record US$40.0 billion, Refinitiv said.

A strong initial public offering (IPO) market, including SPACs, were a key driver of the increase.

At the same time, M&A fees jumped by 46% last year to US$48.2 billion, marking the strongest annual period for advisory fees on record.

Debt underwriting fees were more or less flat year over year, but fees from syndicated lending activity hit a record US$26.7 billion, up 26% from a year ago, the report said.

The financial sector was the largest driver of global investment banking fees in 2021, Refinitiv reported, accounting for almost one-third of the total.

The tech sector saw the largest jump in activity, with fees rising by 45% year over year.

While the global fee pool rose to record heights last year, it also became increasingly concentrated: the top three banks grew their combined share by 2.2% to 21%.

JP Morgan remained the top firm, with investment banking fees totalling US$12.9 billion, representing 8.1% market share.

Goldman Sachs ranked second, with an estimated 7.2% of global share, and Morgan Stanley was third.

BofA Securities and Citi rounded out the top five.