In this lively discussion – it always is – we went over a lot of familiar ground. As always, we got new insights, and perspectives on how the landscape is shifting.

General, and mostly shared, approach:

  • Nearly all treasurers try to manage wallet share as fairly as possible. A frequent comment is that the bank needs to view the corporate as a good and worthwhile customer: paying the lowest price is not always top priority.
    • COVID showed that banks will reduce support to corporates who they do not view as worthwhile clients.
    • A couple of participants said banks wanted to exit unprofitable relationships
  • This requires keeping track of what you spend with each bank – that presents a whole series of challenges.
  • It also means working out what money the banks make out of you. For obvious reasons, this involves quite a lot of guesswork. But it also means being sensitive to the fact that not all banks give the same weight to the same kind of business.
  • Everyone tries to make sure the banks which provide credit support receive the best deal when it comes to allocating business. In some cases this is quite formal: taking part in the credit facility is often a requirement to be allocated fee business.
  • This is all very well, but it presents challenges:
    • Do you give FX business to a bank which is uncompetitive, just because they are in the RCF?  Generally, no.
    • Do you do cash management with a bank just because they are in the RCF? Here, it is nearly always no.
    • How do you handle debt and capital markets activity, where some of the major investment banks do not do corporate lending? This was a long discussion.
    • Travel cards and car leasing can help with the equation.

What is changing?

  • Most of our members on all calls prefer to work with local banks as little as possible, and deal with core international banks – preferably those who provide credit. Could this change as the global financial system may fragment? One participant is making preliminary moves in that direction.
  • Most participants are moving in the direction of greater diversification, at least for deposits, mostly driven by risk management considerations (SVB). One participant did this after finding that a core relationship bank had been over pricing.
  • Fintech solutions were discussed. Most participants prefer to access the new technologies through banking partnerships – these are viewed as reducing the risk. Also, there is a reluctance to give fee business to non banks.
  • FX is usually done via competitive bidding, but is still an important part of the wallet. Often, a bank has to be in the RCF to be included in the panel of FX banks.
  • KYC remains a sore point: some treasurers are now telling the banks what they will, and will not, provide, and are beginning to change banks to avoid the worst.

What is not changing – and shouldn’t

  • Every participant agreed on the crucial role of the relationship manager. A good RM understands the business, and helps massively with items as diverse as smoothing credit applications and KYC. They also get ahead of approvals, and represent the company to the rest of the bank.
  • There was agreement that there are excellent RMs – and weak ones.
  • There was no clear signal that the level or the number of RMs is significantly changing – there is always a concern that banks may seek savings here.
  • Banks prefer recurring business, especially items such as cash management. However, cash management business is sticky, and cannot easily be spread around.

DCM (Debt and Capital Markets), M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions)

  • This is a challenge. A lot of the major players are investment banks, who are not in the business of providing credit support.
  • Treasurers adopt various strategies to handle this, including giving junior roles to core banks. This works sometimes.
  • Especially with M&A, the investment banks often have relationships with senior management, which complicates matters.


  • Two of the participants on this call work for Japanese MNCs. The strong business relationships between banks and Japanese groups can complicate matters for treasurers when striving for the best deal on any given transaction.

Bottom line:

How banking relationships are managed says a lot about the treasurer, the company, and the bank. It is a deep and complex subject – and it is where we earn our money!


This report was produced by Monie Lindsey based on a Treasury Peer Call chaired by Damian Glendinning.

Topics covered in this report: Bank Relationships

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