Banks or banking institutions are indispensable to any nation’s economy and financial setup. The economic functions of a bank include money creation by processing loans, settlement of payments, credit quality improvement, to name a few.
Every year, S&P Global Market Intelligence publishes its annual report on banking and financial services, highlighting the world’s 100 largest banks based on their total assets. For years, the U.S banks have dominated the global financial system, but the Chinese banks are clearly in the driving seat.
Out of the top 15 largest banks, four are Chinese, and seven in total are headquartered in Asia. Only four banks are U.S based, and the rest are European.
Below is a detailed list of the largest banks in the world with their total assets and market capitalization in US dollars. We’ve ranked them according to the bank’s total assets (not the market capitalization).
15. Mizuho Financial Group
Total Assets: US$ 1,874 billion
Market Capitalization: US$ 32 billion
Mizuho Financial Group, or simply Mizuho, is one of the three private megabanks in Japan alongside Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group. It has three large subsidiaries; Mizuho Bank, its retail and corporate banking unit, Mizuho Securities, investment banking arm, and Mizuho Trust.
Mizuho was initially established as Mizuho Holdings in the year 2000 following the merger of three major Japanese banks. Until 2005, it remained the largest megabank in Japan and was surpassed only by other banking mergers in the country. Today, Mizuho engages in a wide range of financial services, from banking and wealth management to private equity.
During the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007, Mizuho’s New York operations lost close to US$ 7 billion in CDOs. It was the largest of any Asian bank during the crisis.
14. Wells Fargo
A Wells Fargo branch in North Carolina | Image Courtesy: Ildar Sagdejev
Total Assets: US$ 1,927 billion
Market Capitalization: US$ 122 billion
Wells Fargo is an American financial services company headquartered in San Francisco. In 2015, it became the largest bank in the world by market capitalization. However, a major banking scandal that broke out in 2016 caused the bank to lose investors, which dramatically affected its market cap.
Although the bank is still suffering from the repercussion of its earlier misconduct, it has managed to maintain its position as one of the largest banks in the world.
In 2017, the US Federal Reserve prohibited Wells Fargo to increase its asset base (AUM) any further until the bank makes necessary changes to its operations. The following year, it was reported that the bank had manipulated documents of corporate clients.
Anyhow, Wells Fargo actively engages in retail and corporate banking, wealth management, and brokerage.
Citigroup Center, London | Image Courtesy: Matt Buck
Total Assets: US$ 1,951 billion
Market Capitalization: US$ 125 billion
Citigroup is one of the largest banking institutions in the world. It is one of the “big four” banks in the United States alongside Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America. They are responsible for 45 percent of consumer deposits in the country. It is also one of the nine bulge bracket banks (largest investment banks) in the world.
Citigroup owns Citibank, which has more than 700 branches in the U.S and 2,500 units worldwide. It owns several other banking institutions globally, including Grupo Financiero Banamex, the second-largest bank in Mexico, and Bank Handlowy in Poland. In the early 1990s, Citibank was the largest bank in America and the largest issuer of credit cards globally.
Apart from retail banking, Citigroup has invested heavily in providing banking solutions to corporations in recent years. It is widely considered as the best Forex exchange bank in the world, while it is one of the leading M&A advisory banks in the Americas and Europe.
12. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group
Mitsui Sumitomo bank tower in Tokyo, Japan | Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Total Assets: US$ 1,954 billion
Market Capitalization: US$ 43 billion
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, or SMFG, is the second-largest financial services company in Japan. It was initially established as Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in 2001, following the merger between Sakura Bank and the Sumitomo Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Sumitomo Group. In 2002, the SMFG was created (as a bank holding company) to operate more efficiently.
The Sumitomo Group is one of Japan’s ten largest corporations with interests in almost every major industry.
SMFG is listed on multiple stock exchanges, including the Tokyo Stock Exchange, NYSE, and National Stock Exchange (India). It provides retail and corporate banking solutions and is also engaged in alternative investment and blockchain-related activities.
In 2012, SMFG acquired RBS Aviation Capital, an aircraft leasing division of the Royal Bank of Scotland, for $7.3 billion. It was the largest acquisition of any leasing business at that time.
11. Japan Post Bank
Total Assets: US$ 1,984 billion
Market Capitalization: US$ 38 billion
In terms of total assets, Japan Post Bank is the second-largest Japanese bank in the world. It is largely owned by Japan Post Holdings, a government-controlled conglomerate with interests in insurance, postal, and logistics. The origin of the Japan Post Bank can be traced back to 1875, when it was created as the first postal saving system in Japan.
Unlike other large banks, Japan Post Bank is mainly engaged in the loan and insurance business. According to its 2019 annual report, the company has close to 120 million accounts, 30,000 ATMs, and 24,000 branches all around Japan.
It is only the second Japanese bank to have branches in each of the 47 prefectures, the other being Mizuho Bank.
10. Crédit Agricole
Crédit Agricole SA. headquarters in Montrouge, France | Image Courtesy: Luc Bernard
Total Assets: US$ 2,256 billion
Market Capitalization: US$ 29.9 billion
Crédit Agricole is the largest cooperative bank in the world. It consists of local and regional banks that provide financial services to individual customers and corporate entities.
These local and regional banks are controlled by Crédit Agricole S.A, which acts as a centralized body for the company and is responsible for smooth interaction between regional and local units.
The bank was established in the late-1880s to provide necessary financial services to farmers and support farming activities throughout France. After decades of growth and expansion, Crédit Agricole underwent several crucial institutional changes between 1988 and 2001, during which it became a fully privatized institution.
At present, Crédit Agricole provides wealth/asset management, private banking, and investment banking services either directly or through a subsidiary. It is the majority owner of Amundi, one of the ten biggest asset managers in Europe.
9. BNP Paribas
Total Assets: US$ 2,429 billion
Market Capitalization: US$ 66 billion
BNP Paribas is the leading banking institution in France and the second largest in Europe in both assets under management and market cap. The bank was established in the year 2000 following a merger between BNP (Banue Nationale de Paris) and Paribas.
It is actively present in all six continents. In the United States, it owns Bank of the West, a major financial service provider in Midwest USA. Similarly, in Italy and Belgium, the bank operates Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL) and Fortis respectively.
BNP Paribas has a strong foothold in both the retail and corporate banking sectors. It serves over 40 million individuals worldwide, and its investment banking arm is considered by many as one of the leading banks in derivatives and structured finance.
8. Bank of America
Brian Moynihan, Chairman/CEO of BofA | Image Courtesy: World Economic Forum/Michael Wuertenberg
Total Assets: US$ 2,434 billion
Market Capitalization: US$ 261 billion
Bank of America (BofA) is one of the most recognized names in the financial world. After JPMorgan Chase, it is the second-largest banking institution in the U.S and the eighth largest globally.
The company’s consumer banking arm, which provides loans, credit cards, and other banking services to individual customers, was accountable for more than one-third of BofA’s total revenue in 2016. It also has a substantial presence in the wealth and investment banking industry. Bank of America’s Global Wealth and Investment Management division (GWIM) is the third-largest in the world in terms of AUM.
Bank of America was one of the major banks, which issued a significant amount of mortgage-backed securities before 2008, which led to financial calamity.
7. JPMorgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Headquarters
Total Assets: US$ 2,687 billion
Market Capitalization: US$ 374.1 billion
Today’s JPMorgan Chase bank is a result of mergers or consolidation between some of the largest banking companies in the United States throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Its origin can be traced back to 1799, when its oldest predecessor financial institution, the Bank of the Manhattan Company, was established.
JPMorgan Chase provides retail banking and credit card services under the brand name of Chase. Meanwhile, corporate banking services like asset management, private wealth management, and security services are carried under the brand name of J.P. Morgan.
At present, JPMorgan Chase is the largest bank in the United States by market capitalization and asset under management. In the year 2017, the company reported revenue of US$ 99.62 billion and a net income of US$ 24.45 billion.
HSBC Headquarters in London | Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Total Assets: US$ 2,715 billion
Market Capitalization: US$ 187 billion
HSBC, a British banking behemoth, is currently the largest financial institution in Europe with a global presence. The company was initially established in British Hong Kong around 1885 as Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. It went through a series of structural changes and was finally restructured into its current form in 1991.
In 2019, HSBC reported total revenue of US$55.4 billion, a 5.9 percent increase from US$ 51.4 billion a year before. Almost fifty percent of the bank’s income comes from its operations in the Asia Pacific region.
The company was involved in major controversies at least half-a-dozen times since 2003. The LIBOR scandal and money laundering case in 2003 and 2012 are few such cases.
5. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
Total Assets: US$ 2,892 billion
Market Capitalization: US$ 78.4 billion
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) is Japan’s largest financial services company with assets close to US$ 3 trillion. It is one of the core companies of the Mitsubishi Group.
MUFG was created in 2005 with the merger of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and UFJ Bank, a subsidiary of UFJ Holdings. Apart from retail banking services, it provides investment management, retail management, and similar services.
MUFG owns a controlling stake (24 percent) in Morgan Stanley, one of the most recognized names in the investment banking industry.
4. Bank of China
Bank of China New York Branch | Image Courtesy: David Shankbone
Total Assets: US$ 3,270 billion
Market Capitalization: US$ 185 billion
The Bank of China (BOC) is the fourth-largest financial institution in the world by total assets. It is the second biggest loan provider in China overall and the larger lender for individual consumers. The bank has two main subsidiaries with the same name (legally separate), one in Hong Kong and one in Canada. BOC operates in almost 30 different nations across the globe, most by any Chinese banks.
The bank was established in the year 1905 as Daqing Hubu Bank (later Daqing Bank). After the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the Daqing Habu was split into two; Taiwan operations, which later became the Mega International Commercial Bank, and Mainland China operations, which became known as the Bank of China.
BOC provides a wide range of financial services from savings, credit cards, mortgages, and insurance to wealth management and investment banking. It is fully owned by the Government of China.
3. Agricultural Bank of China
Total Assets: US$ 3,572 billion
Market Capitalization: US$ 182.3 billion
Agricultural Bank of China, or AgBank, is the third-largest bank in the world and China after BOC. While it was initially established in 1951 following a merger of Farmers Bank of China and Cooperation Bank, the AgBank underwent multiple restructuring before it took its current form in 1979.
The bank has about 24 thousand branches all over the country, over 320 million general customers, and 2.7 million institutional clients. In 2010, the Agricultural Bank of China recorded the biggest IPO in the world at that time but was overtaken shortly after by Alibaba.
Apart from retail and investment banking, the Agricultural Bank of China is engaged in global wealth management and private equity.
In 2007, the bank was subject to massive embezzlement worth ¥51 million or US$ 6.7 million, perpetrated by the vault managers of one of its branches. It remains the largest bank robbery in Chinese history to date.
2. China Construction Bank Corporation
China Construction Bank, Luxembourg Image Courtesy: Michael Kramer
Total Assets: US$ 3,653 billion
Market Capitalization: US$ 238 billion
China Construction Bank Corporation or CCB is the second-largest banking institution and none of the ten biggest public companies in the world. Headquartered in Beijing, the bank has approximately 13,600 domestic branches and more than a dozen international ones, including a wholly-owned subsidiary situated in London.
It offers retail banking services like mortgages, credit cards, and personal loans to the general public, as well as investment banking solutions to big corporations. CCB is also engaged in private equity and wealth management business.
In an attempt to take advantage of China’s growing banking sector, Bank of America bought a 9% stake in China Construction Bank Corporation for $3 billion back in 2005 and a further 1.75% in 2008. However, BofA sold its entire stake in the Chinese bank for a whopping $9.8 billion over three years from 2011 to 2013.
1. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
Total Assets: US$ 4,324 billion
Market Capitalization: US$ 312 billion
With over $4 trillion in total assets, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is currently the largest bank in the world. According to their annual report, the bank had an Operating profit of US$ 53 billion and a net profit of US$ 41 billion in 2016. It’s the first Chinese bank to become the largest public company in the world by total assets.
Like the other big three in China, ICBC is largely owned by the government. Other small shareholders include Temasek Holdings and the National Council for Social Security Fund (NSSF).
The bank offers a wide range of financial services, including consumer and corporate banking, investment management, private equity, and credit cards. Also, it has foreign subsidiaries in Canada, Macau, and Turkey.