Despite – or perhaps because of – the relatively tough conditions in which service was provided in 2020, participants in the ABEM survey, the results of which were published earlier this week, appear to have been more generous than usual in their assessments. Participants were asked to rate their service providers on a scale of 1 (Unacceptable) to 7 (Excellent). Responses were weighted depending on the size of assets held in custody by the rated provider for the respondent concerned.
Figure 1 shows that, in all 11 service categories, the bulk of respondents rated their providers as very good (6) or excellent (7).
Very good to excellent (6 or 7) (%)
Good (5) (%)
Satisfactory (4) (%)
Less than satisfactory
(1, 2 or 3) (%)
Cash Management and FX
Regulation and Compliance
Nevertheless, in assessing the ratings of any individual provider, market context should be taken into account. Figure 2 ranks the markets in the survey by their overall average score. The higher the market average score, the more difficult it is likely to be for individual providers to distinguish themselves from the competition.
United Arab Emirates
The 500 validated individual responses received for the 2020 Survey represent several hundred billion dollars in invested assets. The response pool is drawn from two sources. Those respondents who completed the survey last year were invited to do so again, while service providers in the markets concerned were invited either to submit client lists for invitation or to approach those clients themselves.
Figure 3 lists all the markets in order of the percentage of overall responses that were recorded for them.
Percentage of overall responses
United Arab Emirates
The list shows India, Greece and Russia as the markets with the largest pools of responses. These also appear to be the most competitive markets in the survey with a combination of regional and single-market providers vying for business.
Any markets with less than 1.5% of the total response pool did not receive a write up. The full results are available to subscribers in the Surveys tab of the menu.
This is the last of the ABEM surveys to be run in the current format, which has continued with more or less the same framework for 30 years. The three agent bank surveys, major, emerging and frontier markets will be redesigned and updated to reflect changes in both the service demands of clients and the role of intermediaries in the transaction chain. In Q1 2021, Global Custodian will be welcoming input into the proposed changes from participating service providers as well as their global clients.