Author: Anita Hawser, Gordon Platt, Laurence Neville


As the global economy continues to be challenged by rising interest rates and oil prices, banks are under increasing pressure to provide more sophisticated levels of service spanning multiple markets for less. The need to comply with a raft of regulations including Basel II, Sarbanes-Oxley, the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) and Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) is also placing additional cost pressures on banks’ traditional lines of business, forcing them to reinvent the way they deliver services to their consumer, corporate and banking customers. Increasingly, survival is not just about being the largest, most profitable or most well-capitalized bank. Geographical diversification, product innovation, depth and breadth and a well-diversified earnings base are all essential ingredients for withstanding the economic shocks of high interest rates, customer defaults on loans and reduced consumer and corporate appetite for borrowing. Only those banks with the capital to invest in technology and a global footprint, combined with local market knowledge and a well-trained staff that are able to anticipate customers’ needs, are likely to remain dominant players for years to come.

Taking these factors into consideration, Global Finance’s editorial team has identified the best banks in 109 countries. In selecting these top banks, we considered factors that range from the objective to the informed subjective. Objective criteria included growth in assets, profitability, geographic reach, strategic relationships, new business development and product innovation. Subjective criteria included the opinions of equity and credit-rating analysts, banking consultants and others in the industry. The winners may not be the largest or the oldest or the most diversified in a given country or sector but, rather, the best—the bank with which corporations, consumers and financial institutions around the world are most likely to want to do business. Within this listing of the World’s Best Banks we have included our April 2006 list of the Best Developed Market Banks and our May 2006 list of the Best Emerging Market Banks.

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Contributors: Joachim Bamrud, Anita Hawser, Laurence Neville and Gordon Platt