Five-Star Cash Managers 2017: When quality not quantity counts in cash management

Kimberley Long
Published on:

Scale is important in cash management, but it is not everything. For clients it is the people, the services and the products that count. Often the best-in-class are regional specialists rather than the global giants, as Euromoney’s unique Five-Star Cash Manager analysis shows.


Five-Star Cash Managers 2017

















Full results


In conversation with the world’s leading cash managers, it is often all too easy to focus on their relationships with their biggest multi-national clients. But that ignores the fact that the vast majority of companies operate on a national or regional level. 

More than 30,000 non-financial corporations took part in Euromoney’s Cash Management Survey of 2016. The overall global rankings in that survey, published in October, naturally tend towards the banks with the biggest client bases. HSBC, Citi, Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas – these are the clear leaders in global transaction services.

But for most of those 30,000-plus clients, a global network is not the principal driver of their choice of cash manager. Quality of service is the key to winning their business. And when it comes to asking clients to rate their cash managers on this basis, the results look rather different: step forward instead the likes of Bank of China, Itaú Unibanco, UBS, UniCredit and Commerzbank.

As part of the 2016 Cash Management Survey process, Euromoney asked clients to rate their cash management providers for the quality of service they offered in 20 products and services. These qualitative rankings represent by far the most thorough and in-depth insight into the quality, rather than the scale, of services that the world’s leading cash managers provide.

The amount of data generated by the qualitative part of the survey is enormous. In order to create a more usable guide to which cash managers provide the highest quality of service by region, Euromoney has created its 'Five-Star Cash Manager’ rankings.

The 20 qualitative categories from the survey were combined into five groups: Infrastructure & Connectivity, Products, Services, People & Relationships and Risk & Risk Management.

The relevant granular scores across the 20 categories for every bank in each region are then compiled into an average score for each of the five groups.

To qualify for a star in a group category, a bank had to achieve two things: it must have received a minimum of 3% of the votes in that region (if there were 5,000 votes in the region, at least 150 clients must have ranked the quality of its service there); and its score in each group must have been within 5% of the top score in that group (if the top score in the group was 6.00, to achieve a star the bank must have scored 5.70 or higher).

Banks that achieve a star in all five categories are recognized as a 'Five-Star Cash Manager’ by Euromoney in that region.

Five-Star Cash Managers 

The list of winners is short: in Asia, both Bank of China and ICBC win five stars; in western Europe, the winners are UBS, UniCredit and Commerzbank; in the Middle East, five stars go to ADCB and Citi. In Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), Citi and UniCredit achieve top marks again; and in Latin America, five stars are awarded to Itaú Unibanco and, once again, Citi. No bank wins five stars in North America.

Contrast this with the regional top three overall rankings by region in the October survey: (in order) in Asia these were Bank of China, HSBC and ICBC; in western Europe, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Citi; in the Middle East, HSBC, Citi and ADCB; in CEE, Citi, UniCredit and HSBC; and in Latin America, Citi, Itaú and HSBC. 

Of course there is some overlap between the two sets of rankings. Citi noticeably scores highly in both sets of rankings, whereas HSBC (the global winner in this year’s overall non-financial corporations ranking) does not reach five-star status in any region.

Regional needs 

What are the reasons for these disparities? And what makes for the best quality of service in cash management? Do more focused cash managers, operating mostly with clients in or from one country or region, have an advantage in specializing their services to meet these clients’ needs?

The survey results certainly show that companies operating in different regions can have different priorities.

For corporate clients in western Europe, the critical factors are speed and quality of response to enquiries, competitive pricing and fees and a demonstrable understanding of the business. Less essential are the quality of pitches, mobile capabilities and ancillary business.

In Asia, there is much less differentiation between the importance of core service priorities. In Latin America and CEE, market reputation is seen as one of the critical service priorities.

The element they have in common is the deep understanding of what is affecting their local clients the most. 

When Euromoney questions these top-rated banks about their regional strategy, a recurring theme is the ability to customize processes to respond to regional needs. 

Oscar Mazza, Latin America sales head, treasury and trade solutions, Citi, says: "In Latin America, it is important to stay close to the regulators and be able to react quickly. Information needs to be communicated to clients quickly to allow them to change. The bank needs to know how much it can do in terms of notional pooling or managing liquidity in each country." 

Keeping an eye on impending changes can greatly benefit all parties. Isaac Thomas, head of transaction banking, wholesale banking, ADCB, explains the bank has been able to respond to new rules imposed by the regulator and explain to their clients the best course of action: "There was a law released by regulators for real estate purchases in Abu Dhabi, and we got involved quickly. In talking to the regulators in Abu Dhabi and taking steps to create awareness of the changes, we took poll position in the process."