For great service from your global custodian, ignore the big outfits and instead opt for smaller providers- that is according to a survey by R&M Consulting, a UK-based market research company. Swiss private bank Pictet & Cie came out on top as the best service provider beating off competition from the likes of Citibank and the Bank of New York.

R&M asked over 1,200 institutions, 820 of which replied, to rate their global custodians between 1 (unacceptable) and 7(excellent) on a variety of services ranging from settlement to client service to technology and ancillary services.

R&M has run the survey for eight years- Pictet has come out top on six occasions, this time with an average score of 5.81, up marginally on its 2000 performance. In second place is Credit Suisse followed by Brown Brothers Harriman and Royal Trust in joint third place and BNP Paribas and Northern Trust in fifth and sixth.

At seventh with a score of 4.88 is Mellon Trust, ABN Amro Mellon’s strategic alliance, the only other custodian in the top ten, bar Pictet, registering an improvement. Bringing up the rear are Citibank in twelfth place and Bank of New York in thirteenth.

A fifth of respondents were pension funds and charitable institutions and taken in isolation, they ranked Pictet as best service provider with a record score of 6.24. Deutsche Bank pipped Mellon to second place and Credit Suisse Asset Management came in fourth on 5.5, ranking its service bang in between ‘good’ and ‘very good’. Languishing at the bottom and filling the lowest three slots were, in descending order, Chase JP Morgan, Bank of New York and Citibank.

Pictet has provided global custody for fifteen years and Richard Humes, head of the department, says the survey is recognition of the group’s attention to the human aspect of client relationships.

Mellon also takes the accolade of registering the highest improvement in service provision to Investment managers. “These results prove that the hard work we have undertaken in the past eighteen months has now borne fruit…2000 was the first year that Mellon and ABN Amro have really been able to deliver to our clients, and the survey results acknowledge the fact that our operations are now wholly focussed on exceeding the expectations of our clients, on adding value and on delivering the highest service levels,” says Nadine Chakar, managing director of ABN Amro Mellon.

R&M says the survey demonstrates a division in the provision of global custody into two distinct camps based on size and quality. “The smaller players have once again walked off with the prizes leaving the big boys skulking around at the top of the table. They argue that their size and range of products attracts clients that smaller custodians could not handle, but that has clearly been at the cost of service quality,” says the survey’s analysis.