BNP Paribas has scooped the top honour at RBI’s annual industry awards: Global Retail Bank of the Year. Royal Bank of Canada, Raiffeisen, Standard Bank, Al Hilal Bank, Santander and DBS each won regional awards for banking excellence. Billy Bambrough reports

RBI received nominations from and on behalf of just over 300 banks for its annual Awards, sponsored by Fiserv. This represented a record number of nominations in the 28 years the awards have been running.

Cutting down the nominations to a shortlist banks for each category brought out 50 separate banks shortlisted across the 21 Awards categories.

BNP Paribas was a worthy winner of the award for Best Retail Bank, Global.

BNP Paribas group chief executive Jean-Laurent Bonnafe and his executive board managed to deleverage, strengthen capital, secure access to alternative sources of funding and drive strategic change at BNPP in 2012.

This was all done without losing sight of the underlying business, no easy task.

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The achievements of BNPP in 2012 seem all the more impressive considering the difficult time the bank faced in the second half of 2011.

The bank’s share price was up 50% between January and December 2012.

All these things combined make BNPP Retail Banker International’s global bank of the year 2012. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) received the runners up prize for global bank of the year.

Royal Bank of Canada collected the award for Best Retail Bank in North America for the second year running. The judges award BBVA Compass the runner up award for the category.

In fiscal 2012, the Canadian Banking division of RBC set records for financial performance, exceeded its own business plan, and outperformed its Canadian peer group in a wide variety of metrics, including volume growth and profitability.

This impressive performance was achieved despite economic uncertainty, low GDP growth, high unemployment, downward pressure on net interest margins, and the introduction of new government rules designed to cool the Canadian housing market and curtail growth in consumer indebtedness.

RBC’s strategic plans include a focus on four key goals: improving the efficiency ratio, achieving a 25% premium in volume growth (relative to the Canadian peer average) and industry-leading levels of employee engagement and client loyalty.
RBC achieved:
– An efficiency ratio of 46.9% in 2012
– A 45% premium in year-over-year (YoY) volume growth for Personal and Commercial Banking in 2012 over its Canadian peers

Raiffeisen received the regional award for Europe and Polish-based Alior was awarded an honourable mention in the category.

Raiffeisen acquired a portfolio consisting of over 100,000 customers and the equivalent of more than €90m ($117m) in gross assets in its purchase of Citibank’s Romanian consumer portfolio.

The bank continues to grow in terms of branches, reporting a rise of 178 (6%) in branches over to year, bringing the total to 3,106.

Customers of the bank are also up by 3%, with the total customers at the bank at 14.2m at the end of 2012.

Hilal bank collected the award for the Middle East, with Mashreq being recognized as the runners up.

Al Hilal has, among many accomplishments invested in its IT strategy and channels and in product innovation such as the bank’s Qibla Card which identifies the direction a Muslim must face while performing Salah and the The Middle East’s first gold dispensing machine which can sell gold bars and coins 24 hours a day at current market rates.

Channel investment includes region’s first drive-through bank branch and a new mobile banking service.

Santander was awarded Latin America retail bank of the year. An honourable mention went to Banco do Brasil.

Santander’s business continued to grow at an impressive pace in Latin America in 2012.

The Group registered profit of € 4.3 bn, down 5.6% due mainly to the sale of its Colombian business for three times book value, but up 3.7% on a like-for-like basis.

Investing in its core markets, the Group gained 2.3m new customers across the region, reaching 44m. Net interest income rose 13.9% and pre-provision profit 15.7%. Loans grew 8% and deposits 9%.

Despite the costs inevitably associated with expansion, the group managed to keep a tight rein on costs. Santander’s efficiency ratio in the region improved to 37.9% from 39.8%.
In Brazil, the banks core market:
– quality of service improved, with 81% of customers saying they were satisfied, up from 77.5% a year earlier,
– net operating income rose 8.4%, and
– the cost-income ratio dropped 2.3 points to 35.3%.

The award for Best Retail Bank in the Asia-Pacific region went to DBS with an honourable mention to OCBC.

Through introducing first-of-their-kind basic banking branches in SingPost outlets and community clubs, DBS has successfully doubled its sales touch points.

In 2012 innovations included DBS One.Tap, becoming the first bank in Singapore offering contactless payments via near field communications-enabled mobile phones.

The bank’s 2012 key metrics for market share gains were exceeded

In the deposits space, DBS leads the market with a 52.5% market share with 23.6% market share in the mortgage business.

In unsecured consumer lending, the bank reported 20% growth in 2012.

Standard Bank received the regional award for Africa. The runners up prize went to Ecobank.

PNC won the award for best payment innovation with an honourable mention going to Bank of Ireland

PNC has seen extraordinary growth in the number of person-to-person transactions for the, averaging at least double digit quarter over quarter growth.

PNC will be one of the first financial institutions to enable real-time payments via the Popmoney service in 2013.

Best Product Innovation was won by Capital Bank US, with the runners up prize going to Turkiye Finans Participation Bank.

In 2011, Capital Bank acquired the Open Sky Secured Visa Credit Card as part of an FDIC failed bank acquisition.

Launching a new credit card – a credit card that can be described as innovative is not easy
Open Sky offers consumers the ability to build or rebuild their credit while enjoying a competitive interest rate, which is its key differentiation.
The applicant sets their own credit limit based on an amount of collateral deposit they feel comfortable with sending. Credit availability is matched dollar for dollar and can be increased at any time (with additional collateral).

The Open Sky credit card has seen enormous success since re-launch with Fiserv, with over 4,000 new credit card accounts.

The award for Best IT Innovation went to Palmetto Bank with an honourable mention to Akbank.

The bank examined nearly every customer touch point for ways to make it easier and faster than ever to bank with The Palmetto Bank.

The ongoing IT initiative began in 2011 and continued in 2012, and includes mobile banking, image content management, online banking, payments, wire transfer services, remote deposit capture and a host of additional products and services.

In January, the bank reported two consecutive quarters of net income. The Palmetto Bank attributes this momentum to significant reduction of problem assets, improvements to operating efficiency, and enhanced delivery of products and services to clients.

The winners of the highly nominated category Best Branch Strategy goes to First National Bank (FNB).

FNB now has a branch network 734 strong and the bank deserved this award not just for the opening of new branches and new branch designs. FNB has implemented real changes in its network of branches that have transformed processes and implemented technology solutions to turnaround cash management.

FNB has worked closely with branch managers using creative methods to educate and demonstrate the value of using and accurately managing cash levels.

Results of the project include:
– 25% reduction in total cash
– 90% reduction in branch excess cash
– 90% reduction in excess/over limit cash in the branches
– 18% reduction in ATM cash (using the solution for cash orders only)
– 40% reduction in cash-related customer calls leading to a reduced cost of funds

An honourable mention went to Virgin in the UK as it will be fascinating to see how its lounge style branches are received in the market.

The award for Mobile Banking Strategy was preduictably a heavily nominated one this year. The prize went to ACLEDA with Ally Bank as runner up.

Currently, 85% of Cambodians are underbanked, half the population is under 25-years-old and 25% of Cambodians live on $1 a day since many of these consumers are textile workers or farmers in remote, rural areas.

After realizing the potential of a completely new set of customers, ACLEDA expanded its services with Fiserv and deployed Mobiliti Reach, under the brand ACLEDA Unity – Your Wallet, to enable universal financial services.

Mobile banking investment has played a huge part in ACLEDA’s most recent full year results. In which:

– Assets rose 28%
– Loans grew 35%
– Deposits increased by 25.9%
– Net Profit After Tax increased by 86.6%


RBI 2012 Award Winners:
Best Retail Bank – Global – BNP Paribas

Best Retail Bank in North America – Royal Bank of Canada

Best Retail Bank in Europe – Raiffeisen

Best Retail Bank in Africa – Standard Bank

Best Retail Bank in the Middle East – Al Hilal

Best Retail Bank in Latin America – Santander

Best Retail Bank in Asia Pacific – DBS

Best Branch Strategy – First National Bank

Best Online Banking Strategy – Alior

Best Mobile Banking Strategy – ACLEDA

Best Innovation in Customer Service – Royal Bank of Canada

Best IT Innovation – Palmetto Bank

Best Payments Innovation – PNC

IT Strategy of the Year – First Nations Bank Canada

Best Product Innovation – Capital Bank US

Best Use of Social Media in Customer Service – Kasikornbank

Best Use of Social Media in a Marketing Campaign – American Express

Best Advertising Campaign – Akbank

Best CSR Programme – Lloyds Banking Group

Merger, Acquisition or Disposal of the Year – Santander

Retail Banker of the Year – Arrie Rautenbach, head of retail banking – ABSA