Global Finance unveils its 26th annual listing of the best banks globally, regionally and in 149 countries. The winners outperformed their peers using sustainable business models and good governance, while adapting to rapid change.
Bank of America has received top honors in Global Finance’s World’s Best Global Banks 2019 Awards. Winners were selected based on performance over the past year and other criteria, including their reputation and management excellence as well as leadership in digital transformation.
The US banking industry has returned to robust health and rules the world in areas such as investment banking fees and advice on corporate restructurings, although the top Chinese banks are far bigger by assets. Bank of America is exemplary of a financial-services industry in the US that is serving the real economy more efficiently and responsibly as a result of its rapid adjustment to regulatory and technological change.
Global Finance editors, with input from industry analysts, corporate executives and technology experts, selected the winners for the World’s Best Banks 2019 using entries provided by banks and other providers, as well as independent research, based on a series of objective and subjective factors. It isn't necessary to enter in order to win, but experience shows that the additional information supplied in an entry can increase the chance of success. In many cases, entrants are able to present details that may not be readily available to the editors of Global Finance.
Judgments were based on performance over the period from January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2018. We applied an algorithm to shorten the list of contenders and arrive at a numerical score, with 100 signifying perfection. The proprietary algorithm includes criteria—such as knowledge of local conditions and customer needs, financial strength and safety, strategic relationships and governance, competitive pricing, capital investment and innovation in products and services—weighted for relative importance.
Once we narrowed the field, our final criteria include scope of global coverage, size of staff, customer service, risk management, range of products and services, execution skills, and use of technology. In the case of a tie, our bias leans toward a local provider rather than a global institution. We also tend to favor privately owned banks over government-owned institutions. The winners are those banks and providers that best serve the specialized needs of corporations as they engage in global business. The winners are not always the biggest institutions, but rather the best—those with qualities that companies should look for when choosing a provider.
The selection of a US bank as the global winner comes at a time when European banks are still struggling with relatively high levels of impaired assets, low profitability, slow economic growth and negative interest rates. UK banks, in particular, face Brexit-related uncertainties.
Meanwhile, a further slowdown in growth in China amid US-launched tariffs could put Asian banks at risk, according to Fitch Ratings. Banks in Asia’s trade-dependent markets, such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, could face credit pressures in the hypothetical case of a steep economic downturn in China triggered by US tariffs, Fitch says. The rating agency says Hong Kong banks have the most direct exposure to a slowdown in China, not to mention the effect of protests on the city’s economy. Emerging markets could also be hit by an investor shift away from assets and markets that are perceived as risky, Fitch says.
Bank-rating outlooks worldwide have become more skewed toward the negative this year, Fitch says, with the share of negative outlooks rising to 17% at the end of the first half, from 13% at the end of last year. Much of the deterioration was due to negative watches on UK banks due to Brexit.
More than 80% of bank downgrades were in emerging markets, notably in Latin America, with deteriorating local operating environments putting pressure on banks or reducing the scope for them to receive support from state authorities if necessary, Fitch said. Emerging markets in the Americas had the highest share of negative bank-rating outlooks, at 37%, mostly reflecting the status of the sovereign rating of their home country. Negative outlooks on Turkish banks also contributed to the rise globally.
While the well-capitalized US banks appear better positioned to withstand any future financial crises, recent moves to ease regulatory restraints could be allowing new risks to build up in the system. For example, some of the restrictions on proprietary trading imposed on US banks by the Volcker Rule—part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed in the wake of the financial crisis—are being significantly weakened. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced on August 20 rule changes to ease restrictions on proprietary trading and on bank ownership of hedge funds and private equity funds.
The move drew criticism from some corners. Former FDIC Chair Martin Gruenberg, who remains a member of the FDIC board of directors, voted against the recent rule change, saying it would “allow the largest, most systemically important banks and bank holding companies to engage in speculative proprietary trading funded with FDIC-insured deposits.”
Others, such as Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, are in favor of simplifying the Volcker Rule “in a common-sense way that preserves the safety and soundness of the federal banking system and eliminates unintended consequences of the prior rule.” Following expected approval by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Reserve Board and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the changes would go into effect on January 1, 2020, with a compliance date one year later.
Systemic concerns are beginning to fade, but regulators remain cautious. In July 2019, the US economic expansion became the longest on record. “With the recent lowering of short-term interest rates and inversion of the yield curve in the second quarter, new challenges for banks in lending and funding may emerge,” said FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams, in releasing the second-quarter performance results for FDIC-insured institutions. “Awareness of interest rate, liquidity and credit risks at this stage of the economic cycle will position banks to be more resilient in maintaining lending through the economic cycle,” she added.
The US banking industry had another positive quarter in the April-June period. Earnings rose 4.1% from a year ago on higher net interest income, as loan growth picked up and asset quality improved modestly. The number of banks on the FDIC’s Problem Bank List declined from 59 to 56 during the quarter, which was the lowest since the first quarter of 2007.
The FDIC said it continues to monitor risks in the agriculture sector, connected to low commodity prices and farm incomes. While the net charge-off rate for agricultural loans remains low, some farm banks are experiencing asset-quality deterioration, the agency said.
Meanwhile, the European Central Bank (ECB) said the profitability of European banks improved slightly—on paper, at least—in 2018. However, profitability levels remained low and told only part of the story, the ECB said. The average return on equity edged up to 6.4%, from 6.1% in 2017.
“To assess the sustainability of business models, it is important to understand how banks’ bottom-line profitability is achieved: Are improvements backed by sustainable, stable components, or are they the result of volatile, cyclical or one-off effects or even aggressive accounting policies?” the ECB asked in a paper released in August. “A closer look at the drivers of profitability in 2018 reveals a need for further research and constructive supervision,” it concluded.
With its World’s Best Banks Awards, Global Finance recognizes the banks that are doing the most to help their clients successfully navigate a world in flux, while getting the most out of their assets. Along with the best bank in the world, the honorees include best global corporate bank; the best global consumer bank; the best banks worldwide for emerging markets, frontier markets, and for derivatives, as well as the best subcustodian bank, all of which are being announced here for the first time. It also includes previously announced honorees for best Islamic financial institution, investment bank, cash management bank, trade finance provider, supply chain finance provider, foreign exchange provider, and private bank.
Three new awards were introduced this year: best bank for sustainable finance, best global transaction bank and best bank for small and medium-size enterprises.
BEST BANK IN THE WORLD
Bank of America
Bank of America takes what it calls a “high tech, high touch” approach to serving clients, and now has 37 million active users of digital banking and 28 million mobile users. Both Erica, the AI–driven virtual assistant in its mobile app, and Zelle, the payments platform the bank co-owns, are regularly setting new records. In the second quarter alone, the bank’s customers sent and received 69 million Zelle transactions—totaling $18 billion in money moved—almost doubling the number of transactions in the same quarter a year earlier.
Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, BofA serves one in two American households and 96% of the US Fortune 1,000 companies. It is also one of the largest lenders to midsize companies and to millions of small businesses. BofA is a global leader in wealth management, corporate and investment banking and trading. It maintains operations in more than 35 countries.
BofA leadership drew a picture of a prudent, efficient customer-focused institution in reporting its results. “By adhering to responsible growth, the 200,000-strong team at Bank of America produced record earnings in 2018 of $28.1 billion,” CEO and Chairman Brian Moynihan said in a letter to shareholders. “Our capital, liquidity and capacity to serve clients are at record levels.”
Moynihan noted that careful attention to expenses led to a $30 billion reduction in the bank’s expense base since 2010. “Positive operating leverage—meaning the change in revenue outpacing the change in expenses—has resulted in an efficiency rate of 58.5% for 2018,” he continued, “transforming Bank of America into one of the most efficient firms in our industry.”
—Brian Moynihan, chairman and CEO
BEST CORPORATE BANK
As part of a multinational banking group with 125,000 employees, BBVA Corporate & Investment Banking has well-established global teams serving companies throughout the world. The group has a leading position in the Spanish market, is the largest financial institution in Mexico and has leading franchises in South America and the US Sun Belt region. It is also the leading shareholder in Turkey’s BBVA Garanti. With operations in 24 countries, BBVA offers a wide range of advisory services and solutions backed by a global platform. The bank credits a number of digital products and services with boosting its performance in South America last year, including a 9.7% increase in credit investments and an 11.8% jump in assets. BBVA also launched an Open Innovation program to support fintech startups, which it predicts will create the technology allowing it to continue creating disruptive customer solutions.
—Onur Genç, group CEO
BEST CONSUMER BANK
OCBC Bank delivered strong growth across its core markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Greater China last year. “We started our digital-transformation journey quite a few years ago, and we are starting to reap the benefits of that journey recently,” says Samuel Tsien, group CEO of OCBC. “We already see more customers are digital ones: half of our retail customers and 60% of our business clients.” Tsien says the bank’s ATMs are becoming smarter and the scope of its online banking is widening. “Customers will come to us not just for their traditional banking needs, but also for more aspects of their lives,” he says. “We are deepening customer relationships through our channels and accessing new insights from our data.”
—Samuel Tsien, group CEO
BEST EMERGING MARKETS BANK
With prudent management, high asset quality and strong capitalization, National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) is one of the world’s 50 safest banks, as ranked by Global Finance. Index provider MSCI will upgrade Kuwait from frontier to emerging market status next June, a move with the potential to attract billions of dollars of investor inflows to the Middle Eastern nation’s stock market. Founded in 1952, NBK was the first indigenous bank and the first shareholding company in the Gulf. “The year 2018 was a year of diversification of our business that extended to our products and services, growth in existing geographies, our approach to new business opportunities and a commitment to a digital transformation,” says Isam Jasem Al Sager, group CEO of NBK.
—Isam J. Al Sager, group CEO
BEST FRONTIER MARKETS BANK
Standard Bank leverages its on-the-ground presence in 20 African countries with specialized product expertise to provide corporate and investment banking services, along with mobile retail banking, in rapidly developing economies. The bank has a deep understanding of the complex cross-border financial and regulatory environments in Africa. Most African countries where the bank does business are growing faster than its home base of South Africa. Among the largest contributors to Standard Bank’s headline earnings from the African region are Angola, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda. Africa’s banking market is growing faster than its real GDP.
—Sim Tshabalala, group CEO
BEST DERIVATIVES BANK
Innovation and a focus on alternative risk-transfer products gave Societe Generale an edge in equity derivatives in 2018. Last July, the French bank reached an agreement to acquire Commerzbank’s equity markets and commodities business, which is a manufacturer, distributor and market-maker in structured and flow products as well as asset-management solutions.
As for its equity derivatives business, in particular, “We went from being number one in structured products to an even stronger number one,” says Alexandre Fleury, head of Equities and Equity Derivatives for Global Markets. Innovation and adding new features to products have driven Societe Generale’s growth and solidified its status, says Fleury. One unique instance last year was the introduction of a philanthropic component whereby charitable donations can be made each time a trade occurs.
—Alexandre Fleury, head of Equities and Equity Derivatives for Global Markets
BEST BANK FOR SUSTAINABLE FINANCE
Standard Chartered Bank
Standard Chartered created a new Sustainable Finance banking team a year ago to lead all of its business activities in this area. “We’ve identified a gap in the provision of emerging market focused sustainable finance products and assets,” says Simon Cooper, CEO, Corporate, Commercial and Institutional Banking. The bank already is a leader in the area, mobilizing more than $5 billion of blended finance for public-sector and development-organization clients, raising more than $10 billion in green bonds and advising regulators on relevant matters.
Standard Chartered has ceased any new coal-fired financing and is looking into what role it can play with clients in promoting greater disclosure on emissions. The new team, headed by Daniel Hanna, will increase the group’s focus on impact investing and renewable energy.
—Simon Cooper, CEO, Corporate, Commercial and Institutional Banking
BEST SME BANK
SME Banking at Singapore-based DBS treats the smallest businesses like corporate giants, knowing that someday they may well be just that. Leveraging its digital-banking know-how for SMEs, DBS has created a fast-growing business of its own. In January of this year, DBS launched DBS SME Connect, a portal that gives SMEs access to the accounting, payroll, digital-marketing and e-commerce tools that are readily available to bigger companies. “At DBS, we believe in a relationship that grows as your business grows, helping you seize opportunities, and supporting you through the ups and downs,” Joyce Tee, group head of SME Banking at DBS, said in a statement. “It’s the reason we continually invest in innovative solutions, customized to fit the way you work.” The new portal is the latest in DBS’s digital suite of services for SMEs—from real-time cross-border payment tracking to multicurrency account services—to enable them to become global businesses.
—Joyce Tee, group head of SME Banking
BEST GLOBAL TRANSACTION BANK
Citi’s Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) offers integrated cash management and trade finance services, not only to major players in major markets, but around the globe. It continues to extend its offering to new geographies and has boosted investment in technology to support trade innovation. Last July, Citi and the International Finance Corporation extended a $1.2 billion risk-sharing facility, originally launched in 2009, to help stimulate growth of trade in emerging markets and support economic development. Thus far, these efforts have financed $29 billion worth of trade, with about $4.5 billion in countries served by the International Development Association (the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries) and more than $11 billion in low-income and lower-middle-income countries. Last year, TTS revenue at Citi was $9.3 billion, or one-quarter of the total revenue of its Institutional Clients Group. The business has been growing rapidly in recent years. With its market-leading global network, Citi wants to capture clients’ complete end-to-end cross-border trade flows.
—Alexandre Fleury, head of Equities and Equity Derivatives for Global Markets
BEST SUB-CUSTODIAN BANK
Standard Chartered Bank
Standard Chartered of the UK is the leading provider of securities services in many parts of the world, including Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The bank offers top access to China for foreign investors and is the only licensed foreign custodian for local funds. It is the leading volume clearer on the Singapore Exchange and number one in equity settlement in India. The bank also has a 25% market share of assets under custody in South Korea and is the market leader in broker custody in Taiwan.
Standard Chartered leads in subcustody in many African nations, such as Kenya, Ghana, Zambia and Uganda. The bank has deep relations with sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East and offers securities services in Bahrain, Jordan, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. “The Middle East represents a key growth location to us, and our commitment to being a connector bank for our clients is unrivaled,” says Margaret Harwood-Jones, global head of Securities Services.
—Margaret Harwood-Jones, global head of Securities Services
BEST ISLAMIC FINANCIAL INSTITUTION
Kuwait Finance House
Kuwait Finance House has continued to release new products and services and today is one of the biggest Islamic financial institutions in the world, with a network across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, Turkey, and other Asian and European countries. KFH’s net profit grew strongly in 2018, rising by 24% year-on-year, while return on average equity jumped to 13.14% from 10.48%.
KFH is currently undertaking due diligence in connection with its planned takeover of Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank, a potential game-changer for the Islamic finance industry. If consummated, this would be the GCC’s first major cross-border deal, creating the region’s sixth-largest bank, with assets in excess of $92 billion.
—Mazin Saad Al-Nahedh, group CEO
BEST INVESTMENT BANK
J.P. Morgan’s global investment banking revenue share jumped to 8.7% in 2018, from 8.1% the previous year. The bank’s performance is more impressive considering that the top 10 global banks collectively brought in roughly $1.5 billion less in total investment banking revenue last year than in 2017, according to Dealogic. Net income for J.P. Morgan in 2018 was $12 billion.
The bank also benefited from strong M&A and equity capital markets activity, shooting to the top of Dealogic’s ranking by booking $120 million more in revenue year-on-year. When Daniel Pinto, co-president and co-COO, spoke to investors earlier this year about the firm’s global investment-banking operations, he said the bank is gaining market share at a faster rate than its peers. Across all regions, J.P. Morgan improved its share of the M&A market to 8.9%, its equity capital market share to 9.1%, and its debt capital market share to 8.3%.
J.P. Morgan participated in seven of the top 10 fee-paying M&A deals in 2018 and generated $7.5 billion in fees—a full-year record for the firm. One notable deal was Walmart’s purchase of India’s largest online retailer, Flipkart, for $16 billion. This was India’s largest acquisition and the world’s biggest acquisition of an e-commerce company.
—Max Neukirchen, chief of staff, Corporate and Investment Bank
BEST CASH MANAGEMENT BANK
Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) is known for its suite of innovative and tailored cash management and trade finance services. The bank is now developing a new business line for consumers to make digital payments to institutions. Citi wants to enable digital commerce for clients, while extending its presence and capabilities beyond wholesale payments. “Our mission is to power frictionless payment acceptance with nimble technology,” says Naveed Sultan, global head of Citi’s TTS. “We want to extend our leadership beyond the B2B payment space by developing capabilities to enable institutions to collect from consumers in a globally consistent and seamless fashion.” Citi has expanded its global payments network by establishing direct connections to new payment schemes in more than 20 countries. It was the first corporate bank to connect to Open Banking in the United Kingdom.
—Naveed Sultan, global head of Treasury and Trade Solutions
BEST TRADE FINANCE BANK
Staffed by 350 multilingual trade experts, BNP’s more than 100 trade centers in 60 countries are set up to handle all trade-related needs of corporations. An additional 1,200 middle- and back-office employees complete the French bank’s trade team. Altogether, BNP Paribas has a presence in 75 countries.
The bank’s clientele of more than 40,000 corporate clients in a wide range of industries—for whom it handles 14 million trade-related transactions annually—is a testament to its strength in trade finance. Its solutions include structured trade and supply chain management, as well as web-based platforms. Centric, the bank’s digital client platform, provides access to all of its services, including trade finance, supply chain and cash management.
BNP Paribas has been part of Voltron, the open platform for documentary trade, since its inception. It also has a partnership with Cashforce, a fintech, to offer digital cash-flow forecasting and working-capital services to corporate treasurers.
—Marguerite Burghardt, head of Trade Finance Competence Center
BEST SUPPLY CHAIN FINANCE — BANK
Standard Chartered Bank
Supply chain finance is about more than providing banking services to large buyers that typically want to delay payment, but from the way a great many banks still operate, you wouldn’t know it. That’s why Standard Chartered’s slogan, “Banking the ecosystem,” has become somewhat of a catchphrase in the industry: It points to the goal of integrating the physical and financial supply chains for buyers and suppliers and their customers.
Many banks would like to say they bank the buyer, the supplier and their underlying counterparties, but that is rarely true, since their risk appetite precludes them from working with smaller suppliers. Yet that’s often the part of the supply chain where the financing need is the greatest. Combining the expertise of its commercial, corporate, institutional and business banks, as well as technology leveraged from fintechs, Standard Chartered is able to offer a comprehensive range of financing solutions. The bank provides assistance at all stages in the supply chain, including pre-invoice approval and pre-shipment; and it connects to third-party platforms such as GT Nexus and TradeIX to extend its services and reach to more customers.
—Lisa Robins, global head of Transaction Banking
BEST SUPPLY CHAIN FINANCE — NONBANK
Active in the SCF market and the working-capital space since 2002, Demica provides a range of financing solutions encompassing trade receivables, invoice finance and trade receivables securitization to customers in Asia, Europe and North America. It supports programs across multiple jurisdictions and currencies and can source financing from a wide pool, including banks and institutional investors. Its platform is designed to interface with companies’ ERP and accounting systems to capture invoice data.
In 2018, Demica announced a partnership with the International Finance Corporation that aims to unlock $9.8 billion in annual financing for suppliers and distributors, mostly small to medium-size enterprises in emerging markets, where the trade finance gap is estimated at $4.5 trillion. It also announced plans to move into inventory finance.
—Matt Wreford, CEO
BEST FOREIGN EXCHANGE PROVIDER
Excellence in foreign exchange (FX) banking requires excellent platforms and products, outstanding people and global reach. Citi trades more than 140 currencies from FX desks in 83 countries and has the broadest range of clients of any FX bank. Citi is one of the main global banks serving large multinational corporations. The CitiFX Pulse platform enables corporations to track cash flow and balance-sheet exposure throughout their worldwide subsidiaries. It includes pre-trade market information, including news, research and risk-management tools. Citi’s in-house systems help manage the documentation required for FX transactions in many emerging markets. The CitiFX Pulse platform provides local expertise that extends through the post-trade settlement process.
—Itay Tuchman, global head of Foreign Exchange Trading
BEST PRIVATE BANK
Private banking is often seen as a battle between Swiss and US-based giants, with some homegrown Asian tigers challenging them in the fastest-growing markets. But the best-in-business award this year goes to a venerable French institution. BNP Paribas combines European grace and tradition with a thoroughly modern focus on Asia. Its private bank has grown at an average 18% annually there for the past five years, way outstripping most global competitors.
Wealth managers everywhere are digitizing, but BNP brought an original twist to developing its myWealth platform—including hundreds of clients in the process—through “incubators” on three continents. It’s a leader in millennial-friendly disciplines like green finance and microfinance through its investment banking arm, and in philanthropy for its rich clientele. BNP is well positioned to present a winning image to the rising inheritor generation. There’s nothing backward-looking about this icon of Old Europe.
—Vincent Lecomte and Sofia Merlo, co-CEOs, BNP Paribas Wealth Management
BEST DEPOSITARY RECEIPTS BANK
Depositary receipts (DR)—securities that can be bought and sold on local exchanges in one country that represent the publicly traded shares of another country—offer easy access to fast-growing markets around the world. The award for Best Depositary Receipts Bank goes to BNY Mellon, which alone accounts for half of all globally sponsored DR programs. The bank’s market share is as high as 75% for sponsored programs in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf, and 81% in sub-Saharan Africa. The bank focuses on the unique needs of its DR clients, free from the influence of investment banking, trading and research functions.
BNY Mellon was the first bank to file on 43% of the 44 newly established unsponsored DR programs in 2018, more than any other depositary bank. The number of unsponsored programs, created without the involvement of the foreign issuer, has grown dramatically since 2008, when the US Securities and Exchange Commission simplified reporting requirements and made it easier to set up ADR programs in the over-the-counter market.
—Chris Kearns, CEO, Depositary Receipts
BEST BANK IN NORTH AMERICA
While many formerly global banks have retreated to their home markets, Citi remains a truly global bank. It is the leading cash management provider to US companies in every major geographic region around the world. Citi has 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries. The bank is leveraging its global scale, wide product range and investment in technology to provide the best possible customer experience.
Citi Smart Match, created in partnership with fintech firm HighRadius, uses AI and machine learning to help corporate clients automate the matching of open invoices to payments. On the consumer side, Citi is increasing the speed at which it makes new digital solutions available. Citi CEO Michael Corbat says, “We’ve built an industry-leading technology platform that, when leveraged in combination with our global footprint, provides our clients with seamless connectivity to the banking system around the world.”
—Michael Corbat, CEO
BEST BANK IN WESTERN EUROPE
The best-performing banks in Europe in recent years have been those maintaining a tight focus on the domestic market while yielding digital innovations to clearly understand customers’ aspirations and needs. CaixaBank is an outstanding example of how this focused approach can boost business volumes and enhance profitability.
Over the past decade, CaixaBank has expanded rapidly through strategic acquisitions and organic growth to become Spain’s leading consumer-facing bank. Having built up the largest digital customer base of any Spanish bank, CaixaBank further increased its digital penetration to 32% last year, with more than 1.5 million customers visiting its website each day. During 2018, it made this easier by introducing the CaixaBankNow app, which acts as a gateway to other digital banking services and introduces more targeted apps that provide savings, stock market and investment advisory services.
—Gonzalo Gortazar, CEO
BEST BANK IN CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE
UniCredit has long been one of the most important banking groups in Central & Eastern Europe, with an established presence in 11 countries. It has been expanding its market share over the past five years and now is the largest lender in the region. Almost all of its subsidiaries in the region are prominent players in their domestic markets, and many have been repeatedly chosen by Global Finance as country winners.
Counting most toward making UniCredit this year’s regionwide winner is the group-level turnaround pushed through by CEO Jean Pierre Mustier, whose Transform 2019 program has drastically reduced the group’s problematic debt burden and streamlined internal operations. Profits have risen and the group’s capital base is stronger, opening the way for the parent bank to extend far more effective support to its subsidiaries.
The impacts of this transformation at group level are already being felt, and in 2018 the CEE banks continued to be an important contributor to the pan-European group’s bottom line, generating a net profit of 1.7 billion euros in 2018, an improvement of 17.3% over the previous year. New lending across the region grew by nearly 23%. Over the past year, UniCredit’s CEE banks gained another 1.3 million clients, many of them drawn by the group’s innovative digital offerings.
—Johann Strobl, chairman and CEO
BEST BANK IN LATIN AMERICA
BBVA credits a number of digital products and services with boosting its regional performance last year, highlighted by a 9.7% year-on-year increase in South American credit investments and an 11.8% jump in assets. At the end of 2018, BBVA’s sales on digital channels represented 54% of its total sales in South America and 37% of its total in Mexico, where the figure reportedly has tripled over the past two years alone. The bank has strengthened its digital presence and integrated several of its platforms. It also launched a regional Open Innovation program to support fintech startups, which it predicts will create the technology allowing a bank to continue creating disruptive customer solutions.
Latin America accounted for 51.2% of the group’s net attributable profit, or $3.37 billion in 2018. BBVA’s corporate and investment banking (CIB) unit is very committed to the region, participating in leading projects in corporate lending, project finance and environmental sustainability.
—Onur Genc, group CEO
BEST BANK IN ASIA-PACIFIC
Singapore-based powerhouse OCBC Bank is Southeast Asia’s second-largest bank. With an overwhelming 87% of financial transactions in Singapore completed digitally, it’s no surprise that OCBC is centering its business plan on digital transformation. The bank has earned a reputation for strategic collaboration with fintech and ecosystem partners; some 95% of its new customers in the city-state are digital. The OCBC OneWealth app, using an open API platform, enables third parties to integrate OCBC products and services; and Emma, an AI-powered chatbot, answers home-loan queries. The bank uses facial-recognition technology in some transactions.
OCBC has territorial ambitions, as well. Last June, it launched its Greater Bay Area strategy in China with an investment of $200 million Singapore dollars (US$145 million) over five years. OCBC aims to derive SGD1 billion in annual profit from the project in 2023, accounting for 70% of its Chinese revenue. The bank already has 100 branches across the Greater Bay area, which includes Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, and has an established network across the Asia-Pacific region, from Australia to Myanmar.
—Samuel Tsien, CEO
BEST BANK IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Arab Bank has been a leader in introducing new banking technology in the Middle East. The bank maintains a global network of treasury centers equipped with the latest systems to serve corporate customers. Based in Amman, Arab Bank is unique in that it has a dominant presence in its home market, yet it receives 70% of its income from outside of Jordan.
Arab Bank Group’s earnings rose to $821 million in 2018 from $533 million a year earlier. CEO Nemeh Sabbagh says the solid results were driven by sustainable growth in the underlying business, spread improvements and well-controlled expenses. The asset quality of the group remains high, he adds, with credit provisions held against nonperforming loans of more than 100%, excluding the value of collateral.
With a network of more than 600 branches on five continents, Arab Bank supports local companies as they operate globally. It also serves multinationals as they enter Middle Eastern markets. The bank’s historical presence and deep understanding of the region, its conservative risk appetite and its diversified income streams have all contributed to its healthy profitability.
—Nemeh Sabbagh, CEO
BEST BANK IN AFRICA
Standard Bank of South Africa has a presence in 20 African countries, extending best-in-class banking technology throughout the continent. Sim Tshabalala, group CEO of Standard Bank, says, “The group delivered sustainable earnings growth and improved returns in 2018, underpinned by the strength and health of our client franchise.” Earnings grew 6% last year and return on equity improved to 18%, from 17.1% a year earlier.
Standard Bank is Africa’s largest lender and it has a strong position in South Africa, where it is a market leader in card products, mortgages, retail and corporate deposits. “Looking ahead, we’re optimistic about the potential of artificial intelligence to vastly improve efficiency and productivity for particular processes,” Tshabalala says. “But we’re also keen to look at how to maximize the benefits of AI-human interaction. That’s where we’ll see game-changing impacts.”
—Sim Tshabalala, group CEO
BEST GLOBAL BANKS 2019
|Best Bank In The World||Bank of America|
|Best Corporate Bank||BBVA|
|Best Consumer Bank||OCBC|
|Best Global Transaction Bank||Citi|
|Best Emerging Markets Bank||National Bank of Kuwait|
|Best Frontier Markets Bank||Standard Bank|
|Best Derivatives Bank||Ecobank|
|Best Subcustodian Bank||Standard Chartered|
|Best Bank For Sustainable Finance||Standard Chartered|
|Best SME Bank||DBS Bank|
|Best Islamic Financial Institution||Kuwait Finance House|
|Best Investment Bank||J.P. Morgan|
|Best Cash Management Bank||Citi|
|Best Trade Finance Provider||BNP Paribas|
|Best Supply Chain Finance Provider — Bank||Standard Chartered|
|Best Supply Chain Finance Provider — Nonbank||Demica|
|Best Foreign Exchange Provider||Citi|
|Best Private Bank||BNP Paribas|
|Best Depositary Receipts Bank||BNY Mellon|
|Central & Eastern Europe||UniCredit Group|
|Middle East||Arab Bank|
|Africa||Standard Bank Group|
North America Winners
|Canada||Royal Bank of Canada|
|United States||Bank of America|
Latin America Winners
|Argentina||Banco Santander Rio|
|Barbados||RBC Royal Bank|
|Bolivia||Banco Mercantil Santa Cruz|
|Chile||Banco de Chile|
|Colombia||Banco de Bogotá|
|Costa Rica||BAC Credomatic|
|El Salvador||Banco Cuscatlán|
|Jamaica||National Commercial Bank|
|Nicaragua||Banco LAFISE Bancentro|
|Paraguay||Banco Itaú Paraguay|
|Puerto Rico||Banco Popular de Puerto Rico|
|Trinidad & Tobago||Republic Bank|
|Turks & Caicos||Scotiabank Turks & Caicos|
|US Virgin Islands||FirstBank Virgin Islands|
|Venezuela||Mercantil Banco Universal|
Western Europe Winners
|Finland||OP Financial Group|
|Ireland||Bank of Ireland|
|Luxembourg||Banque Internationale a Luxembourg|
|Malta||Bank of Valletta|
|Monaco||CFM Indosuez Wealth|
|Netherlands||ABN Amro Bank|
|Portugal||Banco Santander Totta|
Central & Eastern Europe Winners
|Albania||Banka Kombetare Tregtare|
|Bosnia & Hercegovina||Raiffeisen Bank dd Bosna i Hercegovina|
|Czech Republic||Ceska Sporitelna|
|Latvia||SEB banka Latvia|
|Montenegro||Crnogorska Komercijalna Banka|
|North Macedonia||Ohridska Banka Societe Generale|
|Russia||Credit Bank of Moscow|
|Serbia||Banca Intesa Beograd|
|Ukraine||Raiffeisen Bank Aval|
|Bangladesh||The City Bank|
|Brunei Darussalam||Baiduri Bank|
|Hong Kong||The Bank of East Asia|
|India||State Bank of India|
|Nepal||Rastrija Banija Bank|
|New Zealand||ASB Bank|
|South Korea||KEB Hana Bank|
|Sri Lanka||Commercial Bank of Ceylon|
|Uzbekistan||Asia Alliance Bank|
Middle East Winners
|Bahrain||Ahli United Bank|
|Egypt||Commercial International Bank|
|Iraq||Trade Bank of Iraq|
|Kuwait||National Bank of Kuwait|
|Palestine||Bank of Palestine|
|Qatar||Qatar National Bank|
|Saudi Arabia||Samba Financial Group|
|United Arab Emirates||Mashreq|
|Yemen||Arab Bank Yemen|
|Algeria||Al Baraka Bank of Algeria|
|Angola||Banco de Fomento Angola (BFA)|
|Benin||Societe Generale Benin|
|Botswana||Standard Chartered Bank Botswana|
|Burkina Faso||United Bank for Africa|
|Cameroon||Societe Generale Cameroun|
|Côte d’Ivoire||Societe Generale Côte d’Ivoire|
|Djibouti||CAC International Bank|
|Ethiopia||Commercial Bank of Ethiopia|
|Guinea||Societe Generale de Banques en Guinée|
|Kenya||KCB Bank Kenya|
|Malawi||National Bank of Malawi|
|Mali||Bank of Africa|
|Mauritius||Mauritius Commercial Bank|
|Namibia||First National Bank of Namibia|
|Nigeria||Guaranty Trust Bank|
|Rwanda||I&M Bank Rwanda|
|Senegal||Societe Generale de Banques au Senegal|
|Sierra Leone||Union Trust|
|South Africa||Standard Bank|
|Tunisia||Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie|
|Uganda||Stanbic Bank Uganda|
|Zambia||Barclays Bank Zambia|
US Regional Winners
|Far West||Union Bank|
|Great Lakes||US Bancorp|
|New England||Rockland Trust|
|Rocky Mountain||Zions Bancorp|