Author: Andrew Cunningham

Upgrades and downgrades shift commercial rankings this way and that compared to last year, but without dramatic changes. While Swedes gained some ground and Singaporeans lost some, most of the changes in this year’s Safest Commercial Banks ranking moved the entrants just a few places up or down.

TD Bank retains its position as the safest commercial bank in the world, with two AA- ratings and a AA+. Germany’s DZ Bank moves into second place, following an upgrade from Moody’s. Svenska Handelsbanken moves into fourth place, following an upgrade from Fitch.

As a result, the three big Singaporean banks no longer hold the second, third and fourth positions they have enjoyed in recent years, although they remain near the top of the Commercial Banks ranking. DBS is now ranked third, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation is fifth, and United Overseas Bank is six. All three hold the same ratings agency assessments as they did last year.

Our Safest Commercial Banks ranking comprises banks that are not majority-owned by governments and not sponsored by governments or regional bodies. The methodology for calculating the scores is the same as that used for our Safest Global and Safest Emerging Markets rankings.

There are five new entries in this year’s Commercial Bank rankings. UBS comes in at 38, following upgrades by both Moody’s and S&P. Korea’s Shinhan Bank enters at 42, following an upgrade by S&P, and ING enters at 50, following an upgrade by Moody’s. Two German banks excluded in recent years due to insufficient asset sizes, BB Bank and TeamBank, placed at 34 and 35 in this year’s ranking.

Falling out of the list are three Saudi banks—Samba Financial Group, Riyad Bank and Al Rajhi Bank—victims of the sovereign downgrades handed out by all three ratings agencies over the last year. Switzerland’s EFG Bank falls out of the list, following its downgrade by Moody’s (prompted by its acquisition of BSI), and Standard Chartered falls out as a result of a downgrade by Fitch in late 2015.

Swedbank vaulted 19 places to become the 16th-safest commercial bank, following its upgrades by Moody’s and S&P. Another Swedish Bank, SEB, rose nine points to 25 after an upgrade from Fitch.

Nineteen European banks appear among the Safest 50 Commercial Banks, but they do not dominate the ranking, as they do the Safest Global list (where the first nine banks—all state-owned or sponsored in some way by government bodies—are European). Eight US banks feature in the Safest Commercial Banks list, compared with only three in the Global list. The Commercial Banks ranking also features a Japanese bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, in 49th place, and one from Hong Kong, Hang Seng Bank, in 17th.

The reach the Safest 50, commercial banks need two A+ ratings and one of A, or an equivalent high score, but these ratings do not automatically assure inclusion. Six banks with those ratings (or equivalent) fall outside the top 50 as a result of insufficient asset size: Standard Chartered, ABN Amro, Nationwide Building Society (of the UK), Kookmin Bank, Shizuoka Bank and BGL BNP Paribas. 


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