Client Service - Roll of Honour
Client Service is always difficult to assess, often critically depends on individuals at least as much as institutions, and yet is essential to any successful prime broker relationship. Scores declined this year compared to 2013, but the deterioration was less than in almost all other categories at only 0.07 points. Scores adjusted for anomalous responses were lower but again the category fared relatively well compared with most others, the difference being 0.20 points across all questions.
Proximity, experience and familiarity all play a role in ensuring good service quality. It is therefore not surprising that the best scores came from North American clients, whose average of 6.11 was among the highest for any client subgroup in any category of service. This client group gave an average score of 6.0 (Very Good) on all six questions. Among other large client groups, European clients, including those in the UK gave the weakest scores while Asian clients appear more satisfied. By and large the smaller the client the more satisfied they are. However interestingly, and consistent with other service areas, Leading clients gave better scores than Very Large respondents. Since Leading clients are differentiated at least in part by the number of prime brokers they use, it seems that competition has spurred a particular and successful focus on these clients. BNP Paribas’s clients are predominantly from North America. Even among the generally high scores received from this group of respondents those for BNP Paribas were exceptional.
In terms of priority, good Client Service remains one of the keys to a successful business. Almost one in eight respondents felt it was the top factor in evaluating potential change of prime broker. This is inherently a negative motivation in that poor client service can prompt a review of incumbents, but superior client service is hard to demonstrate to non-clients. The expansion in the number of prime broker relationships over recent years has probably helped clients gain a broader experience as well as stimulating competition among providers. In terms of priority attached to Client Service it was top rated by 11.6% of respondents, coming in third overall. Its importance among Leading clients was lower (only 8.6% put it at the top of their list) but it remains consistently one of the top five items for all. The variation in scores across all respondents is greater than might be expected given the importance of these elements to clients. The questions attracted a high proportion of “7” (Excellent) scores. This included more than 42% of scores for Stability of client service staffing – the best proportion of any question in the Survey. However the proportion of scores at 3.0 and below, more than 5% on some questions was higher than might be expected.
|Overall level of satisfaction with client service||6.05||5.85|
|Pro-activity and effectiveness of personnel||6.02||5.81|
|Knowledge and experience of personnel||6.07||5.87|
|Ease with which issues are resolved||5.96||5.73|
|Stability of client service staffing||6.09||5.90|
|Ability to deliver products and services of the entire firm||5.97||5.72|
Although Client Service can be difficult to assess, most clients are confident that they know it when they see it. This has an impact on the Roll of Honor names. BNP received a range of positive comments including “BNP - Great firm with great customer service” and “BNP are very effective in resolving trade issues and we are highly satisfied with the overall service we receive.” Giving clients attention they need and feel they deserve is obviously a part of any successful strategy. But if there is one area where respondents think the industry could generally do more it is in the area of bringing all the resources of the firm to the client, whether across asset classes, geography or integrating technology, reporting and operations. However these services are for the most part regarded as much less important than core prime broker services, so perhaps clients are in fact getting the priorities they have asked for. Given the complexity involved and the critical role of key individuals, building sustainable competitive advantage through Client Service will always be hard and achievable only over the medium to long term.