EMERGING MARKETS -- Standard Chartered reasserts its dominance in emerging FX awards

"We’ve always been strong in these regions and we know that's our edge," said John Tan, regional head of FX trading, Asia in Hong Kong. "The market perception is that Standard Chartered is very strong in these regions… and we’re using that to leverage our deep knowledge of the market."

Another factor in the bank’s success in Asia was an increasing focus on "customer needs" over the last two years, Tan said. "We can’t simply be a transactional bank anymore. We can't just help the customer execute the position they want to, we need to offer a full solution."

HSBC, which came in second place in Asian emerging currencies, echoed this strategy. "We’re continuing to focus on our clients and providing increasingly intelligent solutions for their businesses," said Andrew Brown, HSBC head of foreign exchange, Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong.

Walls come crumbling down

"The traditional demarcations of FX and derivatives are starting to disappear in emerging markets and certainly in Asian currencies. A lot of the service propositions that are now provided to clients are a combination of foreign exchange and derivatives products."

Despite success in the vital battleground of emerging markets, neither StanChart nor HSBC wants to be seen as a regional specialist.

Standard Chartered, for example, has been going through an "ongoing restructuring project", said Tan, aimed at bringing the bank more success in other regions over the coming years. In 2002, it globalised its sales team and is currently globalising FX trading. "We rebuilt our sales team and we tried to breakdown all the geographic constraints that we had -- we now organise it more like a product line."

Deutsche Bank, meanwhile, was nominated top bank in emerging European currencies -- a sector that has seen booming activity this year since intervention in the Hungarian forint in January. Latin American markets -- another hotspot in FX in 2003, as the North American Free Trade Agreement boosted cross-border trade -- were dominated by Citigroup for the third year running.

Back in Asia, the focus is now firmly on China. "With all this talk about dollar depreciation, there will be more and more pressure for Asian currencies to appreciate," said Standard Chartered’s Tan. "We will see more activity here, especially in the renminbi NDF market."

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