The Banker’s Asean Best-performing Banks ranking demonstrates how a robust institution needs more than just ample Tier 1 capital and illustrates how banks in Indonesia and Malaysia are built on solid foundations.

The size of a bank’s balance sheet has traditionally been considered the best measurement of its performance, since having the deepest pool of resources to draw from was considered the best way for banks to overcome any challenges the market could throw at them. Beyond this, however, there are other factors that can help to define what makes a modern bank successful. 

The ongoing Covid-19 public health crisis will test the resilience of even the largest of banks in the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) region, as their respective strength and ability to adapt are challenged. This new best-performing banks ranking of the top 30 Asean banks follows The Banker’s traditional ranking according to Tier 1 capital, but also looks at how well banks are performing in key areas including liquidity, profitability and soundness. 

Top contender 

Indonesia has proven itself to be the country to be reckoned with, occupying all of the top four and the sixth position in the top 10 overall best-performance ranking. Bank Central Asia (BCA) takes the top spot, as well as the pole position in the profitability and return on risk categories.

BCA also makes it into the top 10 for growth, operational efficiency, liquidity, soundness and leverage; an impressive showing for a bank that had otherwise placed eighth according to Tier 1 capital.

Indonesia’s Panin Bank, Bank Raykat Indonesia and Bank Mandiri round off the top four in the overall table, with Bank Negara Indonesia taking the sixth place. 

There is also a good result for Malaysia’s banks in the individual categories, even though only Bank Rakyat makes it into the top 10 overall listing. Three Malaysian banks appear in the top 10 operational efficiency listing, and four banks in both the asset quality and liquidity rankings. Public Bank tops the operational efficiency table, comes second in asset quality, and ninth for liquidity. AmBank Group takes the top place in both liquidity and asset quality, and sixth for profitability. Maybank, the only Malaysian bank in the Tier 1 capital top 10, places just once in the breakdown rankings, however, taking fifth place in the liquidity table.  

Likewise, the Philippines also shows a strong response, despite its highest-placed bank for Tier 1 capital BDO Unibank only ranking 15th. Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company, BDO Unibank and Security Bank Corporation placed in the overall top 10. Banks from the Philippines also demonstrated a strong expansion trajectory, occupying half of the growth ranking, and three places in the profitability ranking. Security Bank Corporation, which scraped into the Asean ranking in 30th place, demonstrated a strong management structure, placing in the operational efficiency, soundness and leverage rankings. The bank further took second place in the growth ranking, a position played out in the bank’s own rise from 38th place in the previous Asean ranking. 

Although Thailand’s banks garner fewer places in the best-performance rankings, the country's banking sector is expanding, as shown by having four banks in the growth ranking, including TMB Bank in top spot. Thailand also has two banks both in the operational efficiency and the leverage rankings. 

Challenges beyond capital 

While Singapore dominates the Asean region for Tier 1 capital, with DBS, United Overseas Bank (UOB) and Oversea Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) in the top three places respectively, across the different metrics the banks do not perform as well.

While DBS makes it into the top 10 for profitability, operational efficiency, asset quality and return on risk, OCBC only places in operational efficiency and return on risk. UOB, meanwhile, takes only one place in the breakdown, ranking seventh for asset quality.  

At the opposite end of the Asean Tier 1 capital table, Vietnam has four banks in the top 30, but fails to place any in the best performing banks rankings. While Vietnam’s banks are seeing an increase in business, they may need to look at bolstering their operations in order to build resilience. 

Asean ranking


The Banker’s global and regional rankings are industry-standard measures of bank size by Tier 1 capital. While the current rankings include some additional data to give an overall impression of bank performance, they use only a fraction of the very detailed analysis undertaken by our research team.

Knowing which bank is biggest, or has grown fastest, is useful but what people really want to know is “which bank is the best performer?”. 

We have developed a model that scores and ranks banks in eight key performance categories, using 17 ratios, and assigns an overall best-performing bank score and ranking.  

The key requirement of the model was that it could be used to identify the best performers in any sample group, be it an existing global, regional or country ranking or custom peer group such as global systemically important banks. 

The model only uses performance ratios, and year-on-year percentages and basis points changes, so the size of a bank has no influence on its best bank ranking position. 

The performance categories and indicators are:  

Growth – Annual percentage growth in assets, loans, deposits and operating income.

Profitability – Return on assets, return on equity, profit margin, asset utilisation (and annual basis points [bps] change in these ratios).

Operational efficiency – Cost-to-income ratio (and annual bps change in these ratios).

Asset quality – Allowance for loan losses to gross total loans, non-performing loans, impairment charges to total operating income (and annual bps change in these ratios).

Return on risk – Return on risk-weighted assets (and annual bps change in this ratio).

Liquidity – Loans-to-assets ratio, loans-to-deposits ratio (and annual bps change in these ratios).

Soundness – Capital assets ratio (and annual bps change in this ratio).

Leverage – Total liabilities to total assets (and annual bps change in this ratio).

When the peer group data is imported, the model assigns a score for each indicator based on the relative distribution of values. Thus a bank that significantly outperforms on a particular indicator will receive a proportionately higher score. The maximum possible score for each category is 10 points and the maximum overall score is 80 points.

The model is neutrally weighted so that the underlying ratios and annual bps changes are of equal significance. Each performance category receives equal weighting. We plan to produce an online version of the benchmarking tool, which will allow users to assign data point and category weights according to their own preferences.


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