Bank of the Year Awards 2021

The best banks in 2021 from western Europe.




Andorra’s MoraBanc has gone from strength to strength in recent years, thanks in large measure to the exemplary management of its balance sheet. Over the 2020 review period MoraBanc’s Tier 1 capital position increased by 7.8%, following an already sizable expansion of 15.3% in the previous year. The lender’s cost-to-income ratio and non-performing loans improved considerably over the same period. These achievements, in the midst of a global pandemic, were accompanied by a surge in net profits, which rose by 19.7%, along with growth in total assets of 1.1%. As a consequence of these efforts, the bank’s return on equity surged to 9.47% in 2020, up from 8.5% in 2019. 

Yet MoraBanc’s achievements extend beyond its key performance figures. Product and service innovation is also at the heart of the lender’s success. The launch of the “three-times paycheque loan” midway through 2020 is a case in point. Seeing the potential presented by rising consumer demand as health restrictions were lifted, MoraBanc quickly launched a new consumer loan three times the value of a client’s paycheque, payable within 24 months. The new product, which can be approved within 48 hours, has been made available to both clients and non-clients and has helped to attract new customers to the bank. More than 6.5% of all loans issued have gone to new clients. 

The bank’s digital transformation plan is also playing a notable role in its success. MoraBanc’s technology suite enables 98% of its staff to work remotely, ensuring that it was well prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, digital signing is offered to clients across a range of remote capability offerings including online banking. 

In a sign of MoraBanc’s long-term ambitions, the lender completed the acquisition of 51% of Banco Sabadell d’Andorra in October 2021. The deal will cement MoraBanc’s leading position in the domestic banking market. It will also assist the lender in executing a new three-year strategic plan, under which it aims to achieve net profits of €50m in 2024, representing a 66% increase on the 2020 figure


Erste Bank und Sparkassen

Austria’s banks were hit hard by the Covid-19 health crisis as a contraction in the national economy in 2020, and that of the wider region, dented their profitability. Since the pandemic’s peak, however, their fortunes have improved considerably. Opportunities for growth are rebounding in the domestic market and beyond, while digital transformation initiatives have reduced operating expenses and improved the customer experience. The winner of the 2021 country award, Erste Bank und Sparkassen, exemplifies the best of Austrian banking in this period of recovery and renewal.

For one, the lender’s commitment to environmental, social and governance principles are deeply embedded in its strategic priorities and outlook. The bank, together with the wider Erste Group, has joined the European Commission’s Green Consumption Pledge initiative. This will involve increasing the sales of eco-labelled funds, strengthening sustainable reporting and raising awareness of sustainable finance, among other measures, as part of a wider initiative of accelerating a sustainable recovery. Meanwhile, Erste Bank und Sparkassen has continued to prioritise the financing of sustainable energy sources by partnering with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to fund two new wind farms at a wind power plant in Simonsfeld. 

Beyond its environmental priorities, the bank is also pushing ahead with bold plans for the development of social housing in Austria. By once again partnering with the EIB, Erste Bank und Sparkassen has helped to build more than 2200 affordable housing units for 3900 people in Vienna since 2019 through a joint €200m investment. This co-operation was buttressed in 2020 when both parties agreed to coinvest in new subsidised or non-profit rental dwellings in the country. 

Erste Bank und Sparkassen’s commitment to innovation has seen the launch of a high-end payment solution called ‘GP tom’ in March 2021. GP tom transforms a client’s mobile phone or tablet into a payment terminal. It permits a range of functions, from sales and payment cancellations to tips to daily closure and transaction history, among others. It is a payment solution suitable for all but the largest businesses. It currently accepts payments with Maestro, Mastercard and Visa. 


BNP Paribas Fortis 

BNP Paribas Fortis boasts a strong track record of success in the Bank of the Year’s Belgium country category. This is for good reason: it has consistently demonstrated high levels of innovation and customer service excellence. In recent times, these traditional strengths have been accompanied by ambitious expansion plans which have helped to propel the bank to a winning position once again. In March 2021, BNP Paribas Fortis acquired bpost banque in a binding agreement due to be concluded by the end of the year. The deal involved the acquisition of the remaining 50% stake of an existing joint venture between the two lenders, resulting in BNP Paribas Fortis securing 100% control of Belgium’s 10th largest bank. 

At the same time as the agreement to acquire full control of bpost banque was finalised, BNP Paribas Fortis also arranged a new seven-year partnership with bpost, Belgium’s national post group, to continue the distribution of the bank’s products and services through the post office network. As a result, the lender has significantly expanded both its customer base and physical footprint across Belgium. About €6.5bn-worth of loans have been added to its portfolio through the full acquisition of bpost banque, mostly in the form of mortgages and consumer loans. 

In 2020, BNP Paribas Fortis strengthened its position in the Belgium and Luxembourg payment markets by launching Axepta, a 100%-owned specialist acquisition subsidiary. The bank is the only lender in Belgium to offer acquisition solutions to merchants, with the launch of Axepta designed to strengthen this market position while securing new growth prospects among the country’s business community. In a further sign of its ambitions in this area, BNP Fortis acquired Ingenico’s merchant acquisition operations and terminals – covering card payment processing – in Belgium and Luxembourg in 2021. 

Meanwhile, BNP Paribas Fortis continues to align more of its lending with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In 2020, the bank lent more than €10.67bn to projects and activities that meet these requirements, representing an increase of 7% from 2019. Lending to the renewable energy sector increased by 16% on the previous year. 


OP Financial Group

OP Financial Group has emerged from the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic in excellent shape. Over 2020, its Tier 1 capital position increased by 4.2%, while total assets grew by 9%. Though net profits were dented by challenging economic conditions in Finland, an experience mirrored elsewhere in Europe, OP Financial was able to push ahead with a number of exciting new products, services and initiatives that underscore its status as one of the most dynamic and agile banks in the region. 

The launch of the Digital OP Corporate Hub in 2020, for the bank’s corporate customers, is a case in point. The hub offers corporate clients a 360-degree view of, and control over, their financial situation. An upgrade in 2021 also permits users to benefit from a multi-bank service, meaning accounts with other lenders can be incorporated into this single channel. As a result, OP customers can view account balances, account transactions and conduct payments through accounts with other banks on the digital corporate hub. OP Financial Group is the first bank in Finland with an offering of this kind. 

The development of the Digital OP Corporate Hub sits within the bank’s broader approach to digital banking, where it is enjoying notable growth in terms of customer use. “Digital banking is growing rapidly and we are continuously investing in our digital services to provide new levels of customer experience. Digital banking has been growing even faster since the pandemic began: the number of OP-mobile app users has increased by 21% since the beginning of 2020,” says Timo Ritakallio, president and group executive chairman of OP Financial Group. 

Meanwhile, the bank is playing an important role in raising financial literacy levels across Finland through school visits, open days and online sessions. “Our mission is a continuation of the past 120 years or so: to promote the sustainable prosperity, security and wellbeing of our owner-customers and operating region. To maintain our strong financial performance and leading market position, we are focusing on our core strengths, on profitable growth and on efficient, high-quality operations,” says Mr Ritakallio. 



Germany’s economy suffered deeply as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, although in relative terms it fared better than some of its peers in western Europe. Gross domestic product growth contracted by 5% in 2020, as strict health restrictions pushed down private consumption and investment levels. Even so, the government’s strong package of support measures, including a generous furlough scheme, helped to alleviate some of the immediate shock of the crisis on the economy. In these difficult circumstances, Commerzbank performed admirably to offer support to the wider economy, as well as its customers and staff. Notably, the lender created a dedicated Mittelstand loan facility of €700m to support corporates with pandemic-linked funding requirements.

Beyond its efforts during the height of the pandemic and after, in February 2021 the bank unveiled its Strategy 2024 in which it detailed its ambitious restructuring efforts for the coming years. Commerzbank’s focus will be on customer-centricity, digitalisation, sustainability and profitability. The bank aims to also reduce its cost base by €1.4bn by 2024. “The year 2021 has been a catalyst for two megatrends: digitalisation and sustainability. Both are of utmost importance for banks and their customers. This year, we began our transformation journey to make Commerzbank the number one digital and sustainable advisory bank in Germany,” says Manfred Knof, chief executive of Commerzbank, who took over the helm in late 2020. 

Meanwhile, in March 2021, Commerzbank and Google Cloud announced a five-year strategic partnership that will move a sizeable number of the bank’s applications to Google Cloud. As a result of this enhanced co-operation, the bank will be able pursue a policy of continuous innovation and continuous development. Commerzbank’s customers have already benefited from the lender’s work with Google, through its cloud-based digital account analysis offering, which allows customers and the bank to work together to produce loan applications more quickly. 

“We will strengthen our leading position as the bank for the German Mittelstand and as a strong partner for our 11 million private and small-business customers. We are fully committed to delivering on our Strategy 2024 with four cornerstones: customer-centricity, digitalisation, sustainability and profitability,” says Mr Knof. 


National Bank of Greece 

By most performance measures, the National Bank of Greece (NBG) has enjoyed a period of sustained and impressive improvement in recent years. Since embarking on its ambitious Transformation Plan halfway through 2018, the lender has sought to address its troubled legacy issues while embracing the opportunities of a rapidly changing economic and banking landscape. It has done so to notable effect: between 2018 and 2020, the NBG’s return on equity increased from 2.5% to 6%. Over the same period, the lender’s cost-to-income ratio significantly improved, while its ratio of non-performing loans fell from more than 40% to 13%. 

The bank’s successful digital transformation plan has played a sizeable role in its recent development trajectory. NBG became the first lender in the country to introduce completely digital customer onboarding for individuals, business entities and self-employed professionals. In addition, it has started offering fully digital consumer and small business loans. As a result of these efforts, as well as a growing pipeline of digital products and services, NBG boasts an impressive degree of digital engagement from its clients. Mobile app downloads reached 2.6 million in June 2021, up from 900,000 in December 2018. 

Meanwhile, NBG has placed open banking at the front and centre of its strategic priorities. The lender has invested in extending its portfolio of application programming interfaces with more than 100 now available, while nurturing an extensive range of open banking partnerships to deliver key benefits across a range of functions and offerings including payments, onboarding services, consumer loans and customer insights, among others. 

Throughout the Covid-19 health crisis, NBG provided considerable support to its customers. This has included more than €3.8bn of payment moratoria and interest payment subsidies linked to €2.3bn of loans mostly targeted towards the bank’s small and medium-sized enterprise clients. New credit provided to households and businesses reached €4.7bn 2020, with a further €2bn allocated in the first half of 2021. The bank continues to play a vital role in supporting Greece’s recovery from the pandemic. 


Arion Bank

In a competitive country category, Arion Bank emerges as the winner of the 2021 Iceland country award. This outcome reflects the lender’s stellar performance figures, as well as its strong commitment to environmental, social and governance principles, among other factors. In 2020, during a particularly challenging period for the tourism-dependent Icelandic economy, Arion Bank’s return on equity was 6.5%, while its cost-to-income ratio improved, falling to 48% from 56% year-on-year. The lender’s Tier 1 capital and total assets both expanded by 10.4% and 8.4%, respectively. As the country experiences a strong recovery over 2021 and 2022, with fishing, tourism and service exports all picking up, the bank’s near-term outlook also appears bright.

Arion Bank’s success stems largely from the various strategic initiatives that have shaped the bank’s growth trajectory in recent times. The onboarding of investment banking into the corporate banking division to create a dedicated corporate and investment banking arm is one example of this. But Arion Bank’s strong performance is also a result of the innovative way in which it develops new product and service offerings, while revamping existing ones. Introducing pensions to its successful mobile banking app, for example, has helped to increase transparency and awareness of pension balances and investment returns in an easy-to-access format. Users can now execute key pension functions through their mobile banking app, marking out Arion Bank as the first Icelandic lender to offer this functionality. 

In 2020, Arion Bank launched a green deposit account, intended for customers wanting to contribute towards a more sustainable future. Available to companies, individuals and non-governmental organisations, funds deposited into the account are channelled to green projects and initiatives. During the launch period of the green deposit account, the lender used the funds to finance its green car loans. But the product’s popularity has enabled Arion Bank to expand into supporting new types of green assets, including projects in the circular economy and pollution-prevention initiatives. By June 2021, the total value of deposits in green accounts had reached 10bn króna ($76.3bn). 


Intesa Sanpaolo 

Intesa Sanpaolo’s list of achievements since the onset of the Covid-19 health crisis is staggering. The successful acquisition of fellow Italian lender UBI Banca, followed by its swift integration into the business, would in usual circumstances be enough to impress on its own. The fact that this highly complex task was completed during a global pandemic, while staff were almost exclusively working from home under lockdowns, makes it even more remarkable. The bank was fully merged into Intesa Sanpaolo in April 2021. 

Yet, Intesa Sanpaolo’s success story does not stop there. As part of Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) the lender is providing more than €400bn in finance to support the country’s real economy. The support is being allocated in new medium- and long-term lending to businesses and households. About €140bn in financing will go to individuals and households, while the remainder will be split between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large corporates. Most support will be directed towards investments with a social impact, sustainability, innovation or job-generating dimension. 

“Italy’s NRRP can bring game-changing growth that creates jobs and makes the public debt sustainable. It is also an unmissable opportunity to redesign Italy’s economy while addressing strong inequalities. We are supporting the recovery plan with over €400bn in new lending focused on green and digital change,” says Carlo Messina, chief executive of Intesa Sanpaolo. 

Meanwhile, in July 2020 the bank launched a new credit solution for SMEs known as S-Loans, short for Sustainability Loans. Comprising a €2bn credit facility, it will help Italy’s small businesses that are working on sustainability projects based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria that are aligned with the European Commission’s priorities for sustainable growth. Loans provided to SMEs under this scheme come with reduced interest rates if the business is able to meet specific ESG key performance indicators. A total of €780m in S-Loans has been provided by Intesa Sanpaolo by the first half of 2021. The €2bn in total loans forms part of a wider €50bn that the lender is providing to fund the green economy. 



Liechtenstein’s LGT has performed admirably in recent times, despite the challenges that have afflicted its home market and the wider region. Its Tier 1 capital position expanded by 9% in 2020, following growth of 15% in 2019, while its total assets saw a marginal increase of 1% over the year. LGT’s cost-to-income ratio remained more or less stable at 75%, while its ratio of non-performing loans enjoyed a marginal decrease over the 2020 review period. Beyond its performance figures, LGT took the decision in 2020 to position its three key business lines – LGT Private Banking, LGT Capital Partners and Lightrock, an investment platform – as independent companies. In doing so, the aim is to enhance product and service offerings, while ultimately providing a more clientcentric experience for customers.

LGT’s longstanding commitment to sustainability has continued in recent times with the launch of Lightrock, a direct impact investing platform that looks to secure financial, environmental and societal returns through its investments. These investment opportunities are made available to clients of LGT’s private banking business. The LGT Sustainability Rating, meanwhile, tracks the environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of some 7500 companies and 200 countries and territories to offer LGT clients the possibility to align their investments according to their personal values. Around 20 criteria are used to create an ESG score, meaning a high degree of investment transparency is provided to customers. 

In a further sign of LGT’s sustainability ambitions, in December 2020 it became a signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible Banking which provides a single framework for sustainable banking around the world. Similarly, the group has joined the UN Net Zero Banking Alliance, whose members are committed to reducing their carbon emissions to net zero by 2050. 

“Clearly, our clients find it increasingly important to understand how their investments impact the environment and society. For us, this shift towards sustainable and impact investing has long been inevitable. With long-standing experience in this area, we are eager to support our clients in making even more conscious sustainable investment decisions and to contribute to a better future,” says Roland Schubert, chief executive of LGT Bank. 


Banque et Caisse d’Épargne de l’État

In recent years, Banque et Caisse d’Épargne de l’État (Spuerkeess) has cemented its status as a leader in the realm of responsible finance. When the bank finalised its strategic plan for 2025, it positioned environmental, social and governance principles at the heart of all of its key objectives for the period. In doing so, the lender intends to nurture economic growth while contributing to Luxembourg’s sustainable development and ecological transition into the future. In addition, Spuerkeess is presently working with a number of experts on the rollout of a framework that will assist local businesses in transitioning to a more sustainable footing. 

Spuerkeess has also launched an aid and financing advice support channel for its professional and private customers, in order to assist with their energy efficiency projects. Through this offering, the bank helps to pinpoint both public and private assistance programmes available in the market and steer them through the official requirements involved. It also offers suitable financing options for ecological, sustainable and energy-related projects. 

When it comes to technological innovation, the bank is also making impressive advances to better serve its diverse customer base. This includes updates to its mobile banking application, S-Net, that allows a fully digital onboarding process as well as the option to select and sign on to products online. Spuerkeess has also partnered with the Luxembourg government to offer a digitalised student loan that is built on blockchain technology. Students can use the S-Net mobile app to secure this loan. 

In 2020, Spuerkeess registered a notable increase to its Tier 1 capital position of 9.1%. This was accompanied by a growth in total assets of 4.9%. “Our five-year strategy plan Spuerkeess 2025 has the ambition to further strengthen our relationship with our customers. How we shop, work and bank has changed. We intend to adapt to these changes and see major technological changes within our bank. At the same time, we aim to accompany our clients into a sustainable future,” says Françoise Thoma, chief executive of Spuerkeess.  


BNF Bank

BNF Bank has shouldered the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic relatively well. Indeed, the lender posted a strong set of results in 2020 that are a testament to its sophisticated growth strategy. Net profits increased by 33.9% over the period, while total assets and Tier 1 capital expanded by 8.3% and 4.9%, respectively. Though the lender’s return on equity posted a marginal decrease to 5.8% from 6.3%, this was due to a higher level of provisions linked to the health crisis. Other key metrics, including cost-to-income ratio and ratio of non-performing loans, improved over the year. 

“We have accelerated our long-term customer-centric strategy to keep us on a prudent and sustainable growth trajectory. We kept an eye on ensuring the health of our employees while managing business continuity, yet focused significant effort and investment on our digital transformation. Strengthened by a structured communication strategy, profitability grew to unprecedented levels underpinning a strong financial performance,” says Michael Collis, CEO and managing director of BNF Bank. 

The lender has also launched a mobile banking app with fully secured biometric-based authentication. In tandem, BNF Bank’s internet banking was upgraded to offer a high-end digital experience across online and mobile. Building on these efforts, online meetings with customers in both the retail and corporate segments are now provided by the bank. The result of these efforts, and others, has been a significant increase in digital engagement by the lender’s customer base. From a back-office perspective, BNF Bank has successfully deployed WinAutomation bots to handle a number of intensive tasks in its finance department. In doing so, it has been able to free up staff time to improve customer service levels. 

“BNF Bank will continue to grow, by strengthening our position as the bank of choice in Malta while establishing stronger relationships via our UK branch. We will maintain focus on a strong recovery, as we continue to innovate and provide a seamless experience for our customers through our digital transformation,” says Mr Collis. 


Santander Portugal

The Portuguese economy contracted sharply in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic ripped through Europe. As a result, the profitability of Portugal’s banks took a hit as economic activity in every corner of the market receded. Despite these challenges, the winner of the 2021 Portugal country award, Santander Portugal, has continued to provide an outstanding level of support to its clients and the wider country since the height of the health crisis. The lender’s asset quality has improved, with its ratio of non-performing loans falling to 2.6% in 2020 from 3.2% in 2019, while its cost-to-income ratio also improved to 43.8% from 45% over the same period. In addition, the lender has accelerated its digital transformation plans to ensure that it is ready to embrace the opportunities of the coming decade. 

Indeed, the bank has a designated digital transformation programme known as Project P23, which is centred on deep technological renewal. Through this initiative, Santander Portugal aims to simplify its operations and enhance customer service. One of the ways in which the bank is transforming its relationship with customers is via changes at the branch level. This includes, among other updates, the upgrade of branch technology to enhance omnichannel offerings including an increase in self-service options, an improvement of all areas of functional branch management as well as efforts to increase a relationship manager’s view of the customer by simplifying information flows through new technology. 

Above and beyond these measures, Santander Portugal has also introduced a range of other innovative improvements in recent times. This includes the launch of One Pay FX, a service that permits instant international transfers in a rapid, safe and costless manner. In the first quarter of 2021, Santander Portugal also deployed an innovative offering covering international trade. Known as Swift gpi Tracker, it enables companies to track the status of payments made or received in real time. In doing so, it became the first lender in Portugal to provide a service of this kind. As economic growth improves over the next two years, the bank is well positioned to support its clients through the recovery. 



In a highly competitive country category, CaixaBank secures the award for Spain’s Bank of the Year 2021. This accolade reflects the lender’s success in strengthening its market position since 2020, despite the deeply challenging circumstances presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, while continuing to chart a trailblazing trajectory when it comes to digital innovation. Over the course of 2020, CaixaBank improved its Tier 1 capital position by 13%, while its total assets increased by 15%. Meanwhile, its cost-to-income ratio improved considerably, falling from 66.8% in 2019 to 54.5% in 2020. The bank’s ratio of non-performing loans also fell over the same period.

In 2021, CaixaBank merged with compatriot lender Bankia in a deal that was at the vanguard of Europe’s wave of banking consolidation. “To continue to succeed in [a] complex [operating] environment, we merged with Bankia in March 2021. Today we are the largest bank in Spain by assets and have the right platform to capitalise on these changes through a larger scale, financial strength and sustainable profitability and efficiency,” says Gonzalo Gortázar, chief executive of CaixaBank. 

Meanwhile, CaixaBank has cemented its credentials as a leading player in the realm of sustainable finance. In 2020, the bank established a new sustainable finance division within its corporate and investment banking unit, while also appointing a new sustainability officer within the bank. As of May 2021, the lender had issued seven environmental, social and governance (ESG) bonds to the tune of €6.5bn, comprising four green bonds and three social bonds. It is also helping its corporate clients transition to a more sustainable future. Between January 2020 and June 2021, the bank participated in 27 ESG bonds valued at €21.8bn.  

“From now on, working as a single banking group, we will keep focused on guaranteeing sustainable growth and the best customer experience across a wide range of financial services. We see the growing ESG focus as a great opportunity for a bank with deep social roots as per our mission: to contribute to the financial wellbeing of our customers and to the progress of society,” says Mr Gortázar. 


UBS Group

UBS has enjoyed a stellar period of growth in recent years, even as operating conditions have deteriorated in the wake of the global health and economic crisis. In 2020, net profits increased by 52%, while total assets and Tier 1 capital expanded by 15.8% and 12.9%, respectively. In addition, UBS’s cost-to-income ratio fell to 73.3% from 80.5% in the previous year, while its ratio of non-performing loans remained steady at a low 0.8%. Notably, its return on equity increased over the year to reach 11.3% from 7.9% in 2019. 

Much of UBS’s success comes down to a well-defined strategy and its emphasis on digital innovation and sustainability. “In the past few months, we have seen an enormous acceleration in the digital area. Thanks to our enhanced focus on the topic, we were able to seamlessly serve our clients and meet their evolving needs. At the same time, despite day-to-day challenges our clients faced during the pandemic, sustainability stayed high on their list of priorities. So, we’re driving both topics with passion in Switzerland,” says Sabine Keller-Busse, president of UBS Switzerland.

With the aim of using technology to differentiate itself in the market, UBS partnered with GitLab, a software development and operations platform, to create a cloud-based solution known as DevCloud. DevCloud permits the use of cutting-edge software development tools which foster rapid innovation and much reduced development cycles. To date, more than 12,000 users have been migrated to DevCloud while it has hosted more than two million successful software builds. As a result, UBS’s software developers and engineers can work on a platform that is at the very forefront of industry standards. 

“In order to meet the evolving needs of our clients and to fulfil our client promise, we focus on two pillars: our leading expertise in our advisory services, as well as an intuitive and convenient online journey,” says Ms Keller-Busse. 

UBS has also played a notable role in supporting the Swiss economy through the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes assisting with a government-backed loan programme for small and medium-sized enterprises with CHF1.7bn ($1.85bn) allocated so far.



Over the past few years, Turkey’s banks have endured a particularly challenging operating environment. They have faced two problems in particular: the Covid-19 pandemic and unpredictable monetary policy. The loss of successive central bank governors and the movement of interest rates counter to market norms has exacerbated uncertainty across the economy and the financial sector. But DenizBank has managed to overcome many of these challenges through the prudent management of its balance sheet and a relentless focus on innovation and technological change. Its 2020 financial results include an increase in net profits of 34%, total assets growing by 27% and Tier 1 capital rising by 28%. Over the same period, the lender’s return on equity was 8.55%, while its cost-to-income ratio was an impressive 34.8%.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, DenizBank took a number of important steps to ensure the wellbeing and safety of its staff and clients. In March 2020, the bank was able to get close to 95% of its administrative workforce to work from home, while any remaining essential workers were protected with strict guidelines and other precautions to maintain their safety. Thermal cameras were installed at the exterior of key bank buildings to detect a high fever. Strict social distancing rules were also enforced throughout DenizBank’s staffed locations. The lender also went above and beyond to support its customers and, in particular, its small and medium-sized enterprise clients. DenizBank was the first private bank to join a consortium called Nefes, in which participating institutions offered loans well below official lending rates to support SMEs that had been hit by the pandemic. 

Meanwhile, to support financial inclusion efforts in Turkey, DenizBank launched a micro-loan offering called fastLoan. The product is available through the bank’s mobile wallet fastPay to both customers and non-customers alike. DenizBank believes that financial inclusion initiatives are a relatively untapped growth avenue for Turkey’s banking sector that offer benefits for financial institutions and society at large. Looking forward, DenizBank is well positioned to help Turkey through its economic recovery. 


Lloyds Banking Group

Lloyds Banking Group boasts an enviable track record of success in the Bank of the Year awards. This is because the lender has consistently matched outstanding levels of innovation with impressive attention to detail when it comes to customer service. Beyond these attributes, however, is a genuine commitment to sustainable development both inside the bank and across the UK as a whole. In February 2021, Lloyds launched its Strategic Review 2021, a strategy designed to unlock key growth opportunities across the bank’s major business areas. The Strategic Review is oriented around the lender’s key mission of ‘helping Britain prosper’, with a particular focus on the country’s post-pandemic recovery. 

This covers a number of domains from rebuilding households’ financial wealth, supporting businesses through £13bn in lending through government-backed schemes, increasing the availability of affordable housing, accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy and building an inclusive society and organisation. 

“The pandemic has been challenging for households and businesses and I’m proud of how we’ve helped – from lending and financial support for businesses, to helping people get financial breathing space with payment holidays. Our brilliant people who support our customers day in, day out should take huge pride in this award,” says Charlie Nunn, chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group. 

The bank’s work towards financing a greener future continues to set it apart from the competition. Lloyds is increasing the funding available under its discounted green finance initiatives from £3bn to £5bn in the first half of 2021. Since 2016, more than £8.6bn of total green financing has been allocated by the bank. Lloyds is also a member of the Net Zero Banking Alliance of 43 banks that are working towards net-zero emissions by 2050. Beyond this, the lender has also partnered with the Woodland Trust to plant 10 million trees over the next decade. In its first year, the target of one million planted trees was met. 

“As the country recovers, trends we’ve seen continue to accelerate. Lloyds Banking Group’s purpose of ‘helping Britain prosper’ remains at the heart of everything we do. It shapes how we support the UK’s people, businesses and communities both now and into the future,” says Mr Nunn.


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