Caribbean lenders still face challenges to growth, as shown in The Banker's Top 50 Caricom Banks ranking for 2016, but many have turned the corner in terms of profits. 

There was little change in 2016’s Caribbean Community (Caricom) ranking from The Banker. Economic growth in the region for 2015 slowed to just 1%, from 1.3% in 2014. This was reflected in tepid growth in Tier 1 capital and assets in the ranking, which grew by just 0.15% and 6.44%, respectively.

Growth was especially sluggish in the largest countries in the region. Trinidad and Tobago, home to Caricom’s largest banks and almost 32% of the total assets in the ranking, saw its aggregate Tier 1 capital fall slightly to 1.34%, while total assets crept up by 5.09%.

However, while the region struggled to grow, it managed to stage an impressive profit recovery. Profitability has historically been an issue for the Caricom region, but in 2015 pre-tax profits for banks in the ranking soared by 52.68%.

Trinidad and Tobago stays top

Trinidad and Tobago’s banks continue to top the ranking, even though the country’s aggregate Tier 1 capital fell. RBC Financial Caribbean, a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Canada, has held on to the top spot with $2.58bn in Tier 1 capital. This is more than twice as much as its nearest rival, CIBC First Caribbean International Bank from Barbados, another Canadian subsidiary.

Other Trinidadian banks have also ranked highly, with Republic Bank staying in fourth position overall despite a near 12% drop in Tier 1 capital to $834.67m, while First Citizens Banks climbed one place to fifth.

The situation was slightly more challenging in Bermuda, which has the second largest presence in the ranking and is the source of almost 23% of the total assets. The country saw its Tier 1 capital drop by 5.81%, with one of its flagship institutions, Butterfield Bank Group, posting substantial losses of 10.56%, which resulted in it falling two places to seventh.

It follows that the largest increases in capital and assets came from much smaller players. In the Bahamas, which account for just 5.91% of the assets in the ranking, several banks have posted impressive capital increases. The largest capital build-up in the ranking came from the Bank of the Bahamas at 76.59%, enough to see the bank climb 11 places to 26th. Other local banks to post impressive increases include Inteligo Bank and Fidelity Bank of the Bahamas, which posted increases of 30.67% and 21.96%, respectively. 

Profit recovery

In this year’s ranking, the increase in profitability in the region was driven at least in part by lenders from Trinidad and Tobago, whose pre-tax profits soared by 71.3%, or more than $500m. A particularly big contribution came from RBC Financial Caribbean, which returned to the black in 2015. The bank lost $129m in 2014, but managed to make a substantial $99m the following year.

However, the most lucrative territories in the region are in Guyana and Jamaica. These two countries earned returns on assets (ROA) of 3.72% and 3.14%, respectively, in 2015. The highest earning bank in the ranking is another Canadian operation, Scotiabank Guyana, which managed an ROA of 5.37% last year. The largest return on capital, however, was delivered by a Jamaican institution, National Commercial Bank, which showed a return of 52.06%.

Caricom banks


All fields are mandatory

The Banker is a service from the Financial Times. The Financial Times Ltd takes your privacy seriously.

Choose how you want us to contact you.

Invites and Offers from The Banker

Receive exclusive personalised event invitations, carefully curated offers and promotions from The Banker

For more information about how we use your data, please refer to our privacy and cookie policies.

Terms and conditions

Top 1000 2023

Request a demonstration to The Banker Database

Join our community

The Banker on Twitter