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Compete or collaborate – or give up?

There has been no relief from the pressures that last year’s annual cash management poll detected – as the industry globalizes, margins decline and competition intensifies. Smaller banks are facing a choice between expanding to compete or forming difficult-to-implement partnerships. Some might soon begin to question whether all the effort is worthwhile. Lawrence White reports.

Cash management poll 2006: HSBC takes top position                 Full results                Methodology   

THERE’S A LONG-STANDING problem in the cash management business: how do you streamline and standardize in order to stay in an increasingly globalized and fast-moving race without compromising your products? Compete or collaborate is this business’s catchphrase, as the few banks with a truly global network extend their influence while smaller players face the stark choice of outsourcing their regional expertise to one of these larger rivals or attempting to expand themselves. Euromoney’s 2006 Cash Management Poll reveals a continuation of the trends towards globalization and shrinking margins that have characterized the past few years. Some of the biggest banks in the game predict a future in which only four or five firms will offer a unified global cash management solution while the rest form a secondary tier of outsourcers providing regional coverage to the top dogs. The banks in this second tier of treasury service providers, meanwhile, are trying to innovate and focus on their domestic strengths in order to keep up.

Standard Chartered is this year’s surprise mover in the poll, climbing three places from 2005 to claim third place.

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