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Correspondent banking: New networks change the face of transaction banking

As the number of truly international banks shrinks, new alliances and networks are being formed to meet the needs of clients. Choosing the right partner is an important and complex process. Increasingly, corporate treasury teams are taking a keen interest in the banks’ decisions.

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Ask almost any bank about their international ambitions in recent years and you would get the same response: We’re not looking to expand for expansion’s sake, but we will go with our clients where they want us to go with them.

But is that still really the case? Pressured by costs, falling revenues and regulation, many banks are starting to ask the question: If we expand our geographic footprint to support our clients, are we going to generate enough revenue to make the costs and the risks worthwhile?

Then there are the challenges facing the few banks left with truly global ambitions. Once, they took pride in having a presence in as many countries as possible. Global expansion seemed a goal in itself – the profits would surely follow. But, generally, they did not. Costs rose and profits fell. Stricter know-your-client (KYC) requirements turned the conversation away from global banks being too big to fail, to simply being too big to manage.

Leda Glyptis, a director at consultants Sapient, says: “Historically there have been two assumptions with a bank’s international presence: that global is good and that it does not have to be deep.


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