However, as is often the case with customer service surveys, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.
Pictet Top Pick
Pictet & Cie. emerged as a respondent favorite in the R&M Consultant 2001 Global Custody Survey, taking top honors both overall and in the evaluation by pension funds, which comprised roughly 20% of the respondents. It was the sixth year in the past eight the Swiss custodian topped the customer service list. Credit Suisse Asset Management and France’s BNP Paribas made high debuts on the list, coming in at #2 and #5, respectively.
The survey’s authors also noted that for the first time six custodian banks achieved an average score above 5.0 on the 7.0 scale, with a very slim margin between second and sixth place.
The R&M Survey observed that while pension funds historically grant higher custodian scores than other client groups, Pictet’s 6.24 (out of a possible 7) was the highest score ever achieved in this category. Meanwhile, the emergence of Deutsche Bank, Mellon and Credit Suisse in the category managed to push Northern Trust down to 5th place. Ironically, Northern’s success in attracting new business seems to be challenging their ability to service existing relationships, according to the survey.
Survey respondents were critical of JP Morgan Investor Services (Chase) and Bank of New York, which fared much better in PLANSPONSOR.com’s sister publication Global Custodian’s 2000 Survey. Respondents to the R&M Survey apparently felt that JP Morgan had focused on acquisitions rather than on customer service, while Bank of New York was seen as having difficulties accommodating items that fell outside of their standard system requirements.
Eye of the Beholder
Of course, customer service assessments of necessity lie in the eye of the beholder, and their individual needs, rather than offering a true apples-to-apples comparison on breadth, functions and capability.
Global Custodian’s 2000 Survey acknowledged Pictet’s decision to concentrate on delivering superior client service to a select number of clients who value that level of attention, and are willing to pay for it. Additionally, its relatively small size allows Pictet to understand the needs of its clients and position itself to meet them, which is evidenced in the relationships formed with independent investment managers.
The R&M Survey rated custodians on their service level in 23 different areas. The survey was based on the responses of 820 institutions around the world that use the services of global custodians. Approximately 54% of respondents were investment management companies, 20% pension funds or charitable associations, 17% insurance companies and the remainder banks and savings associations. The survey was conducted during December 2000 and January 2001.
Go here for the results of the R&M Survey (in PDF format)