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Awards for Excellence 2011: When pitches go wrong…

Although the process of banks lobbying to win Euromoney’s Awards for excellence can be a time-consuming and frustrating process for both sides, it does offer up the occasional lighthearted diversion. Among these one enjoyable annual feature is the backfiring pitch, in which a bank emerges from the meeting with perhaps less chance of winning the award than if it had not bothered at all.

This year provided two classics of the genre. In one, a capital markets banker from a firm we’ll call Y bank, pitching for his bank’s performance in one country, was making a convincing case for the breadth of his firm’s business.

That is, until he made the fateful decision to pull out some pre-prepared slides. Resplendent at the top of the first slide was a colourful trio of league tables, each showing Y bank in second place with the same rival above it on all three tables.

Above them was the somewhat disingenuous headline ‘Y bank leads the market across all products’. Questioned as to whether being in second place constitutes a traditional definition of leadership, the banker chose to move the conversation on.

While this pitch showed perhaps not enough linguistic honesty, another banker gave his PR colleague a nasty shock this year with a case of too much. During a pitch for best bank in his country, the chief executive said, when asked why he should win this year: "Well, it is the first year since 2004 we’ve stopped losing customers."

As his colleague from corporate communications narrowly restrained himself from leaping from his chair to stop further disclosures, the CEO continued cheerfully outlining the reasons why customers had been leaving and what that rate of attrition was. The PR official looked mortified after the meeting. However, sometimes points for honesty count... there’s a good chance the bank in question is among this year’s winners.