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2007 UK Trustee / Depositary Survey Results

 
HSBC Tops R&M UK Trustee / Depositary Survey 2007

 
HSBC has retained poll position for the second year running in the R & M UK Depositary/Trustee Survey for Unit Trust and OEIC managers and unit holders building on its previous score. The survey shows an increase in overall service levels and a change in the fortunes of the six main trustee / depositaries in the UK mutual fund industry. 

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Alternative investments, increasingly sophisticated derivatives, UCITS 3, property funds, new products and changing regulations have not impaired the policemen of the investment industry from doing their duty even more efficiently than before.   

“I believe HSBC go to great lengths to add value for their customers,” said one client. “HSBC have continued to provide an excellent service and have demonstrated that they are continuing to look for ways to further improve year on year.  Their relationship management remains first class while provision of technical advice, while already very good, looks set to further improve in 2008,” said another.
 

The biggest improvers in this year’s survey, JP Morgan achieved a significant result this year pushing itself up into second place. As one of the two largest providers (RBS being the other) this reflects some serious effort by the organisation to rise to the challenge of client service. “Excellent service over the last year. They have really improved,” was the verdict of one major client. Another client commented that the change of their trustee manager in the last year with the appointment of someone “experienced with derivatives” was an excellent move anticipating their own shift in that direction.
 

T
he other major provider, RBS, also had a good year, seeing its scores rise on the back of big improvements in compliance monitoring of investment and borrowing powers as well as regulatory / technical advice on new products. Their main strength lies in the considerable experience and knowledge of their client relationship team, their principal weakness is their systems where clients feel they are behind the competition. 

The one organisation to register a decline in score was Bank of New York Mellon, sliding from third to last place. “We would criticise their approach as commercially naive, tending towards unhelpful.  We did not always get the support that we felt, both at the time and with hindsight, we should.  While the overall performance is good, these instances are not forgettable and colour an otherwise satisfactory picture,” was the verdict of one client. Others raised concerns about BNY Mellon’s ability to support new products, especially those involving derivatives.
 

Citigroup had a flat year on year score resulting in their relegation to third place in the survey, down from first place two years ago. Overall service levels do not seem to have diminished but the areas that appear to require attention are day to day compliance monitoring, especially on investment and borrowing powers as well as pricing checks.

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State Street’s performance has been the best in the history of the survey, with a 0.28 gain over 2006 and a big gain in the £1 billion club putting it into first place. “Huge all round improvement, for the first time I can say that they are excellent across the board. An excellent effort by State Street,” was one client’s verdict. “An excellent year, where some senior management changes and changes of role have certainly made a difference. The Legal team continue to produce exceptional work,” said another.

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This table demonstrates the importance to fund managers of the quality of advice they receive from their provider and the closeness of the relationship. As the fund management industry broadens its product range and ventures into new areas it comes to rely ever more heavily on its advisers. The trustee / depositaries have positioned themselves well, introducing experienced and knowledgeable people to keep up with the managers’ evolving businesses. No doubt this will be an ongoing theme as evolution continues apace.
  The survey was conducted in September and October 2007. The questionnaire covered 29 different aspects of service provided and a scoring system of 1 (low) to 7 (high) was used.
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