HSBCs Trade Forecast Tool left me wanting more

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For companies doing business overseas, and increasingly that means many more smaller companies, understanding currency issues, foreign exchange controls, basic bank account information and other block and tackle information to move money and control risk with trading partners is crucial.

HSBC’s Trade Forecast Tool, a new mobile app, claims to go one step further and help you predict trends and make informed decisions about where and when to make your next move.

Here is what HSBC says the Trade Forecast Tool can do to help business leaders make informed decisions:

  • explore a worldwide or country overview of the short-term confidence or a long-term forecast for international export and import trade;
  • determine which settlement currencies are expected to dominate international trade;
  • learn about the key import and export trade routes between countries and within regions; and
  • obtain industry insights on which sectors are driving global export growth.

Sound too good to be true? You can see for yourself here.

My feedback for HSBC is the following:

  • Both the screen shots and the navigation could be greatly improved. The opening screen reminded me of some arcade pixel game. Some of the data graphs are way too complex. It just doesn’t make me want to use the tool.
  • It does not include all countries, in fact only three for Latin America (Brazil, Argentina, Mexico was put here but is considered North America) and six in Europe (Germany, France, Poland, UK, Ireland, Turkey). For a global trade bank, that is missing many emerging markets, including the PIGS.
  • It gives no data associated with the top 5 imports and exports. They could have done so much more here – showing top exports and imports by country using drill down tools.
  • I would have preferred to see something like a commodity flow tracker – what is the flow of potash, methane, zinc, iron ore, etc. between countries, growth rates, etc.

What I did like was buried at the bottom of each country profile.

  • Country guide information is very good with good executive summaries
  • Trade overview information gives a decent snapshot of the trade flows and some color around that.
  • The treasury management profile does give country credit ratings and a background on exchange controls, bank accounts, etc. that is helpful.

With that said, it is a start.  Hopefully HSBC will build on this tool and make it a valuable resource for small business.  This is where HSBC and other banks can have a leg up on the likes of Amazon who lack the knowledge around treasury and trade financial supply chain issues.

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