Underscoring the damage Bankers Trust New York Corp.'s reputation has suffered in the past year, the company has fallen from No. 1 to No. 5 among trading banks in an annual survey of corporate risk managers.
A survey of 201 executives by Treasury & Risk Management magazine found that the New York bank had been hurt by its aggressive sales tactics. Its derivatives unit was the target of a lawsuit and wound up paying a $10 million fine last year for deceptive sales practices in a transaction with Gibson Greeting Inc.
Bankers Trust was "sales-driven and transaction-oriented, without regard to long-term relationships," Christopher Sailer, treasurer of Brown Foreman Corp., Louisville, Ky., told the magazine.
"Our level of competence in the derivatives business hasn't diminished over the past year," said a spokesman for Bankers Trust. "But it shouldn't be surprising that recent negative publicity is reflected in the survey results."
Tony Baldo, the magazine's editor, said the survey indicated that financial executives are looking for a partnership as opposed to arm's- length transactions.
"The impression we get is that (corporate executives) definitely want some kind of risk-sharing relationship where they won't feel like they are out on a limb by themselves," he said.
J.P. Morgan & Co. was voted the top derivatives dealer, up from No. 3 in 1993. Maureen Hendricks, managing director of Morgan's Americas Capital Markets Group said the vote showed that the bank puts its customers' needs ahead of its own.
While 70% of the respondents said they used derivatives, the executives expressed some skepticism about sales pitches they receive from dealers. When asked whether they thought dealers were "truthful with you regarding the risks and negative features" of derivatives, 8.1% said "no." Another 41.2% said they thought the dealers were "mostly" truthful, and 11% said they were "marginally" truthful.