New regulatory pressures and slow economic growth have been taking their toll on the US's small regional lenders, leading to worries that many of them will be squeezed out of the market. But results from the first quarter of 2014 show that these smaller players are actually performing better than the country's larger lenders.
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The complicated geographical and political make-up of Bosnia-Herzegovina, combined with its struggling economy and low purchasing power, makes life difficult for its overcrowded banking market. However, hope is on the horizon as economic growth picks up and looming elections bring promise of a more investor-friendly financial system.
With a global aggregate income of $12,500bn, and spending power beyond that, women represent one of the world’s largest banking markets. Yet most banks still seem unwilling or unable to service the unique needs of their female customers.
Computers have reached such a level of sophistication that they can now outperform their human counterparts at some tasks, a fact that has not gone unnoticed in the banking community. But, while smart machines are increasingly being utilised in customer service and data analysis capacities, advocates of these new technologies maintain that they are designed to complement rather than replace the traditional workforce.
The macroeconomic climate is taking its toll on Turkey's banks, with many predicting a difficult year for the industry. Growth avenues still remain, however, in the commercial loans and small and medium-sized enterprise sectors, not to mention the huge potential of tapping the country's large unbanked population.
After years of rationalisation and restructuring following the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s, Japan's largest banks – Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Mizuho and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group – are much healthier than their Western and Chinese counterparts, but they are still struggling to increase profitability.
After years of neglect, the Iraqi banking sector offers promise once again. Mobile banking, trade finance and infrastructure financing opportunities are proving attractive to existing lenders and the wave of new entrants looking to break into the market. But, before the tide can finally turn, there are regulatory issues that need addressing.
A strong economy and good governance have helped maintain healthy profitability at most of the Philippines' largest lenders, but with plans to establish a semi-integrated regional banking industry among the Association of South-east Asian Nations members – which would pit local institutions against much more mature banks – many are looking to diversify, both in terms of the products they offer and the customer base they serve.
There is an optimistic feeling among the CEOs of Spain's leading banks, as profits and domestic conditions improve. With the European Central Bank's imminent asset quality review expected to be passed with flying colours, the country's lenders are now looking beyond survival and towards growth, both domestically and internationally.
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