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09 October 2018

Importers’ Choice Awards: UniCredit highest performer among active ECA banks

Features editor
Based on feedback from 53 major importers from across the globe. UniCredit is the top performing import finance bank, according to the TXF/Clevis Research second annual Importers' Market Survey.

“We have noticed that lately there has been a strong appetite coming from our clients. We also notice there is a tough competition between ECAs and banks with aggressive prices,” said a Europe-based senior manager.

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: More risk, more reward

UniCredit came out on top of the bank standings with an impressive score of 9.27, improving on its second place position in 2016. ING Bank came in second with a score of 8.81 and Crédit Agricole third with 8.42. The remainder of the top 10 were was made up of HSBC, Standard Chartered, Commerzbank, Société Générale, BNP Paribas, SMBC and Deutsche Bank.

The importers’ general satisfaction with banks increased 0.30 points year-on-year, from 7.83 in 2016 to 8.13 in 2017. Overall the importers were happy with the banks’ performances since every category averaged above a 7. Compared to the 2016 report, the banks most significant improvements came in the Deal Execution and Capacity categories, with Pricing the only segment to see a drop in performance. 

“In our company we have noticed that banks have improved in their reactivity. They are trying to get things done in a much faster way,” said an Americas-based international export credit manager.

According to feedback from the interviews, the importers would like banks to be more willing to take risks when considering the eligibility of some projects, feeling that banks are still somewhat reserved when it comes to lending credits for riskier undertakings.

Breakdown: Better service at a higher price

ING took first place in the Deal Execution category with an impressive score of 9.50. UniCredit and SMBC came in second and third with respective score of 9.29 and 9.00. “At ING, they are very effective when it comes to executing our deals,” said one Asia-based head of corporate projects. Overall, importers were very impressed with the banks’ performances in the segment, highlighted by the top three all achieving scores higher than 9 and with the bottom two banks in the top ten still receiving ratings above 7.5. 

In another high-performing category, UniCredit finished top for industry expertise with a score of 9.57. ING finished second with 9.17 and BNP Paribas third with 9.00. “BNP Paribas has a deep understanding of the market in which we operate,” said a Europe-based senior international finance manager. Once again importers were impressed with banks’ industry expertise, reflected in the top nine receiving scores of 7.5 or above, but SMBC was singled out for improvement after scoring just 6.75.

In the Understanding of Your Business category, UniCredit took first place with a score of 9.29, ING came in second with 9.00, and Crédit Agricole in third with 8.88. Overall, most of the customers were pleased with the banks’ understanding of their businesses, as evidenced by an average score of 8.20.

UniCredit also finished top for flexibility, scoring 9.00. Standard Chartered and ING came second and third with respective scores of 8.67 and 8.50. “At Standard Chartered Bank, they are very flexible,” said a Europe-based financial advisor. Importers were generally happy with the banks level of flexibility, with Deutsche Bank (7.00) and BNP Paribas (6.67) the only banks in the top ten to score less than 8.

And, once again, UniCredit took first in the Risk Appetite category with a score of 9.00. Commerzbank finished second with 8.67, and Standard Chartered third with 8.33. “Standard Chartered shows that they are willing to support us also in those countries that might be considered as a risk,” said a Europe-based senior manager. Overall the banks performed well in for risk appetite, with a median score just above 8. However SMBC definitely has room for improvement after scoring a mere 5.50.

In the Capacity category, UniCredit (9.43) pipped ING (9.33) to first by just 0.1 of a point. Standard Chartered came in third with 9.00. Despite the top three achieving scores above 9, there was a large diversity of performance in the segment, with the first and tenth placed banks split by 2.68 points. 

In the Pricing segment, SMBC made up for some poor performances in other categories by finishing joint second with HSBC on 8.25. The unassailable UniCredit took another first with 8.71. “UniCredit prices are lower than all the other banks in our country,” said an Asia-based CFO. Although no bank in the top ten scored less than 7 for pricing, the average score was a full 0.5 points below that of 2016.

It was a different story for the User-friendliness category, where the importers were extremely satisfied with the banks performance, as evidenced by an average score of 8.24. UniCredit finshed well ahead of the pack with a 9.57, but ING (8.83) and Crédit Agricole (8.50) closely tipped a number of competitors to second and third place respectively.

And finally, in the Product Offering segment, UniCredit topped a competitive group with another score of 9.57. BNP Paribas finished second with 9.00 and ING third with 8.83. Importers showed their satisfaction with the products available to them by scoring eight of the top ten banks above an 8.

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

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