Finds The Banker’s Top 1000 World Banks ranking 2020

1 July 2020: Poor performance at the top level contributed to another bad year in western European banking with country profit falls of 12.7% in the UK, 1.96% in France and 19.4% in Germany (see Table 1), according to The Banker's latest ranking of the Top 1000 World Banks.

Profits at the UK’s and Europe’s largest bank HSBC fell 33%, while at France’s Société Générale they fell 17%, Germany’s Deutsche Bank heads the list of banks with the largest moves from profit into loss.Spain also had a bad year with profits down 13.66% at Santander and 25.95% at BBVA.

These results further weakened the position of European banks vis a vis American and Asian banks. Ten years ago, western Europe contributed nearly one third of global banking profits. Last year it was just under 20%. In 2020 the figure is 17.63% compared to 43.22% for Asian banks and 26.17% for North America. Western European banks’ return on capital at 6.71% is the lowest for any region (see Table 2). 

Brian Caplen, editor of The Banker, said: “European banks have never fully recovered since the financial crisis and continue to suffer from low growth and low interest rates. Heading into Covid-19 related turbulence they should have sufficient capital but their profits will be under extreme pressure.”

HSBC is the only European bank left in the Top 10, ranked by Tier 1 capital (see Table 3) – a measure of bank safety – and it earns the bulk of its profits in Asia. Deutsche Bank dropped five places to 32nd as its capital fell 10% in dollar terms and it went from profit to loss (Table 4). Société Générale dropped from 29th to 31st position.

There was, however, good news in Italy where profits grew 25.81% and Greece where the banking industry is back in profit for the first time in six years.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of The Banker’s Top 1000 World Banks. The first ranking in 1970 contained 300 banks based on assets and was headed by Bank of America. One of Europe’s best years was 1980 (see Table 5) when France’s Credit Agricole was top, Deutsche Bank was fifth and the UK’s Barclays was ninth.

Forty years ago, Credit Agricole was the leader with $105 billion in assets. The highest ranked bank today, China’s ICBC, has assets of $4.3 trillion, about 40 times larger. Credit Agricole which places 12th in the 2020 ranking based on Tier 1 capital, now has assets of $2.3 trillion about 22 times larger. France’s economy has grown only fourfold in that period showing how finance has grown much faster than the general economy.

Top 10 Countries Top 1000
Return on Capital by region
Top 20 World Banks 2020
Ten Largest moves
Top 1000 1980


For more information, please contact Catherine Goacher / catherine.goacher@ft.com

About The Banker
The Banker is the world’s premier banking and finance resource, providing global financial intelligence since 1926.

The Banker is the key source of data and analysis for the industry. The Banker’s Top 1000 World Banks ranking has been setting the industry benchmark since 1970, providing comprehensive intelligence about the health and wealth of the banking sector. To find out more visit www.thebanker.com/top1000.

Brian Caplen has been a financial and business journalist for more than 25 years. He has worked in Hong Kong and the Middle East and reported from all over the world. He joined The Banker in 2000 and became editor in 2003.

About the Financial Times
The Financial Times is one of the world’s leading business news organisations, recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy. The FT has a record paying readership of more than one million, three-quarters of which are digital subscriptions. It is part of Nikkei Inc., which provides a broad range of information, news and services for the global business community.


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