There have been wholesale changes to the overall rankings in the R&M 2014 Global Custody Survey with Pictet, RBC and BNP Paribas taking the top three places respectively and scores declined across the board.
Richard Hogsflesh, managing director of R&M Consultants and the author of the report, says: “It is rare to see scores decline so comprehensively as they have this year. When it has happened in the past it has usually been linked to falling market values. Clearly that is not the case at the moment. So what else can it be?
“Everyone appears to be rushed off their feet and much of the talk is of regulation. AIFMD, FATCA, FTT, Form PF, CFTC, Dodd Frank, EMIR, T2S, Rule 442, UCITS 5, it’s hard to find anybody in the investment world who’s not been affected. Add to that the debate regarding the potential EU Directive on the single market in Europe for personal pensions and you can see that no one escapes. So maybe that’s why scores have fallen, reflecting the stress people are under.
“But the biggest decline by far was in the USA. Perhaps there is another cause? Cost cutting, client service and relationship management are the cornerstones of good service levels. When RMs no longer have the budget to travel regularly to see clients and are being forced to confine communication to electronic media, be it emails, conference calls or video links, it strips out the human element. It’s not winning favours with clients.”
In the overall results there is a return to pole position for Pictet – a place they have not occupied since 2003. The company has always come in the top three or four but this year sees them reclaim the title.
In the words of one US based fund manager: “I have no time to describe my issues with other custodians as I am really busy here but would like to express an opinion. Pictet is one of my top custodians and I would rate State Street as the worst due to getting someone to answer back on their help desk. I am just pleased with our relationship with Pictet as a custodian.”
Pictet was followed closely by second placed RBC, both of whom were some distance ahead of third placed BNP Paribas, followed by another gap before reaching the remainder of the field comprising BNY Mellon, Northern Trust, JP Morgan and State Street.
Citibank and HSBC both failed to receive enough responses to qualify for inclusion in the overall table. Credit Suisse and UBS only appear in regional tables where they qualified. HSBC only managed to qualify for the Experts and Asset Managers tables.