GLOBAL - For the eighth time in 10 years Pictet has been voted as the custodian clients are most satisfied with, according to the annual R&M Global Custody Survey. The top three spots are occupied by Swiss-based custodians- UBS, a newcomer to the survey took second place, followed by Credit Suisse in third.

The survey by the UK-based independent R&M Consultants was sent to 1,200 institutions around the world who use global custodians. Approximately 1,050 responded of which 43% were based in the UK, 32% in continental Europe, 21% in north America and 4% elsewhere.

The questionnaire covers various aspects of custody including settlement, safekeeping, client reporting, client service, fees, and ancillary and additional services. Clients were asked to rate their custodians by allocating scores of between 7 (excellent) and 0 for each service.

Once again the survey demonstrates a gap in the quality of client service from small and large custodians. The table of average assets per client is virtually a mirror image of the overall results table.

JP Morgan has almost £6bn(€9.8bn) per client but is only tenth in the table. The Bank of New York, with the third most assets per client (£4.1bn) came bottom yet Pictet, deemed to provide the best customer service has a modest £380m per client. If the survey is to believed, client service is inversely proportional to the custodian’s size.

One of the problems with the survey is that it lacks a benchmark, in other words, it not exactly comparing like with like. A Pictet supplies a very different market to, say, a State Street or Bank of New York.

Hence the inclusion of the 2001 results to act as a benchmark. In terms of relative performance the large global custodians, Mellon group, Citibank, JP Morgan, State Street and Bank of New York each improved their scores dramatically from last year’s survey.

In contrast, Pictet, Brown Brothers Harriman, Deutsche and JP Morgan all trod water while the clients of BNP Paribas and Northern Trust’s were marginally less satisfied with the service they received.

Citibank was the year’s strongest improver with a score up by 0.69. “Citibank’s service improved greatly in 2000 and they have maintained this throughout 2001,” was the verdict of one UK investment manager.