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08 October 2018

Importers’ Choice Awards: Finnvera leads improving ECAs

Features editor
Export credit agencies improved the quality and delivery of their service in 2017, according to TXF/Clevis Research’s survey of 53 major capital-equipment importers.

Finland’s export credit agency (ECA), Finnvera, is the world’s leading import-finance ECA, according to TXF/Clevis Research’s second annual Importers’ Market Survey. The research also noted a considerable uptick in the overall performance of ECAs in 2017. “The overall ECA service is just really good, they are trying to improve under each aspect of their services,” said an Asia-based head of treasury.

The Importers’ Market Survey garnered feedback from 53 importers. For the quantitative part of the survey, the exporters were asked to rate — on a scale from 1 to 10 — the banks’ performances for nine business criteria (deal execution, industry expertise, understanding your business, flexibility, user-friendliness, risk appetite, capacity, pricing, and product offering).

Highlights: Tight at the top

Finnvera took home the 2017 Importers’ Choice Award with an overall score of 8.42, leaping up the table from its ninth place finish in last year’s edition. Switzerland’s SERV and Italy’s SACE finished in a close second and third with respective scores of 8.36 and 8.35. The Italian ECA continued its strong performance from 2016 and was the only ECA to retain it position from last year’s rankings.

Overall, the capital equipment importers were more satisfied with the performance of their ECAs than last year, with better scores recorded in six of the nine business criteria. The ECAs improved their collective performance by 0.33 of point year-on-year, achieving a score of just under 8 for 2017.

Compared to 2016, the importers particularly recognized strong improvement in the categories of Industry Expertise, Product Offering, and Deal Execution, with a the latter recording a substantial 0.58 increase in its score. However on the other end of the spectrum, the criteria Pricing, Risk Appetite and Capacity dropped in performance, with Pricing in particular seeing a 0.18 fall.

Breakdown: European ECAs dominate

For a second year running, SERV came top of the Deal Execution category, repeating its 9.00 score from last year. Germany’s Euler Hermes and the UK’s ECA, UK Export Finance, came second and third with respective scores of 8.42 and 8.33. “Euler Hermes provides us with a great deal execution service,” said an Asia-based head of international bank financing. There was strong competition within the category, with only 1.67 points separating the top 10 ECAs.

UK Export Finance finished first for industry expertise with a score of 9.00. Finnvera came second with 8.75 and Euler Hermes third with 8.69. “Euler Hermes has a very vast network all over the world,” said an Americas-based director of financial derivatives. Overall customers were very satisfied with the industry knowledge of the ECAs, as evidenced by a total average score above 8.

UK Export Finance also finished top of the Understanding of Your Business category with a score of 9.33. SERV came in a close second on 9.20 and SACE finished third with 8.83. “In our company we have the feeling that ECAs have a deeper understanding of our business than previous years,” said the Europe-based head of international bank financing. The top 10 ECAs all scored well in the category, with only China’s Sinosure (7.67) and Denmark’s EKF (7.33) scoring below an 8.

SERV and Korea’s K-SURE shared top spot for flexibility, both scoring a 9.00. SACE finished behind the pair with 8.50. “We have only received positive responses from SACE. They are very flexible,” said an Asia-based executive vice president. Performances varied in the segment, with a full 3.50 points dividing the top ten. Down at the bottom of the table, there were poor showings from the Japanese ECAs, NEXI and JBIC, which scored just 6.67 and 6.50 respectively.

Finnvera finished first for risk appetite with a score of 8.00. Sinosure came in second with 7.67, and K-SURE and SACE shared third on a score of 7.50. Overall, the importers were dissatisfied with the ECAs’ risk appetite, reflected by an average score of 6.99. “ECAs are not willing to finance small companies,” said an Asia-based financial expert.

Finnvera also topped the Capacity category, scoring 8.50. SACE and UKEF shared second place with scores of 8.33. “At Sace they provide good financing for already-existing projects,” said an Asia-based executive vice president. Denmark’s EKF wasn’t able to match its perfect 10 out of 10 from last year, this year dropping to fifth with a score of 8.00. The importers were generally happy with the capacity of their ECAs, as evidenced by an average score of 7.80.

The importers were similarly pleased with the ECAs in the Pricing segment, with all of the top 10 finishing with a score above 7 and the overall average coming in at 7.83. NEXI took first with a score of 9.00, followed by Finnvera on 8.75 and UKEF on 8.67.

Finnvera and SACE shared the spoils in the User-friendliness category, both scoring 9.00. For the Finish ECA, it represented a considerable improvement on its 7.50 from 2016. An Asia-based CFO said: “One of the nicest aspects of working with Finnvera is their customer service, they are very friendly.” SERV finished third on 8.80, unable to match it’s perfect 10 from last year.

And finally, K-SURE and Sinosure finished joint first in the Product Offering segment with scores of 9.00. SACE came in close behind on 8.83. “SACE offers good and creative solutions in order to march our expectations,” said a Europe-based head of treasury. Overall, the importers were extremely satisfied with their ECAs’ product offerings, reflected by all of the top five ECAs scoring 8.25 or above and an average score of 7.92 for all the ECAs.

For more information on the report please contact TXF’s dominik.kloiber@txfmedia.com.


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