Trade Finance Survey 2018
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Trade Finance Survey 2018

It is one thing to win a client’s business, but quite another to have their vocal support, so Asiamoney put the question: ‘Which trade finance banks would you recommend enthusiastically?’ to companies around the region. The results were eye opening.

Banks can measure success in many ways. Revenue and profit are clearly the most immediate and important, but an obsessive focus on these numbers can distract executives from asking deeper questions about their business.

Awards and poll rankings demonstrate how well a bank has done against the competition, but they do little to show whether that bank is truly strong or simply the best of a bad bunch.

Net promoter scores, or NPS, offer something different. These numbers are derived by a deceptively simple question: “How likely is it that you would recommend this bank to a peer or colleague?”

The idea is not simply to ask if clients are happy enough with a bank’s service, but to gauge if they’re so loyal they would help promote a bank’s brand in private conversations that could help drive new business.

Respondents choose a number between one and 10. Only those who answer 9 or 10 for a particular bank are considered that bank’s promoters, whereas any answers from zero to six mark a respondent as a detractor. Asiamoney subtracted the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters to arrive at the NPS figure.

Wildly different

We applied this methodology to our trade finance poll and came up with some interesting – and sometimes surprising – results.

In Singapore, for instance, DBS ranked third among trade finance banks but had a negative net promoter score. In South Korea, Shinhan Bank suffered the same fate. Are these banks so ingrained in their home markets that their clients don’t think they need promoting? Or are their critics simply louder and more determined than their backers?

There were also wildly different levels of commitment in different countries.

In Singapore and India, an NPS of 26 was enough to clinch top place. In China, Taiwan and Korea, each of the winners managed an NPS of more than 80, a remarkable display of customer loyalty in an industry that is too often reduced to price competition.

But one thing that did stand out across the region was the staggering performance of Deutsche Bank.

The German bank is struggling to find its place in the highly competitive world of investment banking, but its focus on more prosaic – and undoubtedly profitable – lines of business, including trade finance, appears to be paying off, to judge by the response of its Asia clients. It not only fared best across the region, but also placed top in China and Korea, as well as featuring in the top three in India, Singapore and Taiwan.

BNP Paribas, HSBC and Cathay United can also be proud of individual country wins, with the former two also doing enough to clinch spots in the top three overall.

The original idea for NPS came from car rentals, where the importance of word of mouth made promoters a particularly useful metric to measure. But in a world where banks are too often in the headlines for the wrong reasons, Asiamoney thinks it will become an equally important source of information for banks. 

2018 Trade finance NPS rankings


Rank Firm NPS Score
1 Deutsche Bank 35
2 BNP Paribas 16
3 HSBC 14
4 DBS -9
5 Standard Chartered -24


Rank Firm NPS Score
1 Deutsche Bank 82
2 Bank of Nanjing 50
3 HSBC 28


Rank Firm NPS Score
1 BNP Paribas 26
2 Deutsche Bank 14
3 HSBC 11


Rank Firm NPS Score
1 Deutsche Bank 92
2 KB Kookmin Bank 3
3 Shinhan Bank -21


Rank Firm NPS Score
1 HSBC 26
2 Deutsche Bank 3
3 DBS -14


Rank Firm NPS Score
1 Cathay United Bank 81
2 Deutsche Bank 73
3 HSBC 13
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