This is the first time Global Finance has given an award for “Best Bank in the World.” The choice of a European bank recognizes the fact that banks on the Continent have made notable improvements this year. ING was our choice of Best Bank in Western Europe for a fourth year in a row in 2017.

The banking industry worldwide is undergoing a massive transformation as the result of new technology and changing customer behavior. ING has been ahead of the curve in adopting digital technology and a culture of innovation. Partnering with 65 fintech companies, ING has focused on improving the customer experience. It is the Bank of the Future, with a clearly defined goal of converging toward a single digital banking platform that is globally scalable.

ING is the type of bank that Global Finance’s corporate readers can rely on to meet all of their transaction banking needs in the global marketplace. From payments and cash management to trade finance services and working capital, ING offers customized, integrated solutions incorporating the latest innovations to improve safety and efficiency.

Meanwhile, Amsterdam is an increasingly important financial center in the post-Brexit world. ING is an exemplary bank with high standards of ethical behavior. Under Dutch banking rules enacted in April 2015, all ING employees in the Netherlands take the “Banker’s Oath,” vowing to put customers first and help them succeed.

ING is a strong institution with a solid capital buffer. It has a strong base in Europe and operates in 40 countries around the world. We have watched the bank attract millions of new customers in recent years with its successful and sustainable business model.

—Ralph Hamers, CEO



Bank of America

Bank of America has the leading US market penetration for large corporate banking, cash management and trade finance, according to Greenwich Associates. The bank has relationships with 80% of the Global Fortune 500, and 96% of the US Fortune 1,000 companies.

The bank’s global business, serving commercial customers, generated earnings of $5.7 billion last year, followed by global markets, with $3.8 billion, the highest in five years for that category. Meanwhile, all of the bank’s businesses are operating at good efficiency levels and are producing returns above the firm’s cost of capital.

In addition to a wide range of lending and other solutions, BofA has one of the world’s top-tier investment banks, ranked third globally in investment banking fees last year. The bank is also one of the largest lenders to midsize companies and to small businesses. It has a broad array of capabilities to support businesses that are driving the real economy in the US and around the world.

—Brian Moynihan, chairman and CEO



Royal Bank of Canada

Royal Bank of Canada, the largest bank in Canada and one of the largest in the world, is keeping its retail banking clients happy with a focus on innovation. “Innovation is core to RBC, and we continue to invest in building a digitally enabled relationship bank to better serve our clients while delivering sustainable earnings growth,” says Dave McKay, president and CEO.

RBC recently announced the pilot launch of two artificial intelligence-based digital services that offer insights about a client’s financials and a fully automated savings solution that uses predictive technology to identify money in a client’s cash flow that can be automatically saved.

For the second straight year, RBC ranked highest among Canada’s big banks in terms of retail banking satisfaction, according to J.D. Power. The Toronto-based bank performed well in all seven factors considered: product, self-service, personal service, facilities, communication, financial advisory and problem resolution. RBC also led in J.D. Power’s inaugural app satisfaction study, which was based on responses from more than 1,600 retail bank customers throughout Canada. Success in retail banking requires a multichannel approach, according to J.D. Power. RBC’s distribution model includes ATMs, call centers and online and mobile channels, along with the physical branch network. In addition to Canada, RBC has operations in 35 other countries, including 17 in the Caribbean.

—Dave McKay, president and CEO



Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

ICBC, the largest bank in the world, earned $23.3 billion in the first half of 2017, an increase of 2% from the same period of last year. While its lending margins widened and net interest income rose 7%, the bank reported a 6.2% decline in net fee and commission income. ICBC said the decline was mainly because it actively reduced fees and offered discounts. Despite China’s liquidity squeeze, ICBC realized a $182 billion increase in deposits.

ICBC is the leading investment bank in China and the biggest domestic bond arranger. It is also the largest retail bank and the largest issuer of credit cards in China, as well as the largest private bank, the largest custodian bank, the largest electronic bank, the largest asset management bank and the largest settlement bank. In its latest earnings report, ICBC said it continues to strengthen risk prevention and control, with its overall asset quality showing signs of improvement. Its nonperforming loan ratio dropped to 1.57% on June 30 from 1.62% at the end of last year.

—Yi Huiman, chairman




Citi does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions, with a significant on-the-ground presence in 98 of them, making it the world’s most global bank. In Vietnam, for example, Citi is the leading foreign bank, with branches in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offering a full range of banking services. In April 2016, Citi advised Central Group of Companies on its $1.1 billion acquisition of hypermarket chain Big C Vietnam. All told, Citi advised clients on 11 M&A transactions last year that were valued at $6.4 billion—more than any other bank in frontier markets.

In Nigeria, Citi helped arrange a $1.1 billion sovereign bond issue in February that was heavily oversubscribed. Citi Inclusive Finance also provides loans to microfinance institutions operating in frontier and emerging markets around the world.

—Michael Corbat, CEO



Societe Generale

Societe Generale has been designing derivatives for its clients for more than 30 years. Earlier this year, it was awarded Best Bank for Equity Derivatives and Best Bank for Interest-Rate Derivatives by Global Finance. Dealers at Societe Generale receive high marks from corporate clients for a faster-than-average response time. The Paris-based bank stays committed to its clients, enabling it to get more repeat business from them. Societe Generale creates bespoke instruments with nonstandard tenors when special needs arise. It is able to warehouse risk for a client until it can find a new buyer to take it on.

Societe Generale restructured its global markets division in 2015, knocking down silos and making it easier to offer cross-asset derivatives. It evolved from a leader in equities derivatives to become a full-service derivatives provider. Interest rate derivatives were the biggest contributor to the bank’s revenue gains in fixed income, currencies and commodities revenue last year.

—Frédéric Oudéa, CEO



Standard Chartered Bank

Standard Chartered offers direct custody access to 40 markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, giving it the largest proprietary network in these regions, which account for 90% of its revenue. The bank has implemented a new integrated custody platform in 33 of these markets. The platform’s “single touch” custody model provides investors with more relevant real-time information about their holdings, as well as accounting and workflow solutions.

The system enables Standard Chartered to integrate the benefits of local and global approaches and offer seamless services, including straight-through processing from trade to settlement. It also offers compliance with evolving market practices, as well as foreign exchange services.

—Margaret Harwood-Jones, global head of securities services



Northern Trust

For the second year in a row, Northern Trust has won the Best Global Custodian award. With $9.3 trillion in assets under custody and administration, the Chicago-based bank sees opportunities in rising interest rates. “We see higher nominal short-term interest rates impacting the business in a positive way, because as rates start to increase, there are opportunities to invest the cash collateral at higher rates while the liability side will take longer to reset,” says George Trapp, head of Northern Trust’s securities lending client relations for North America. “This provides additional revenue for clients,” he says.

Trapp also notes that interest-rate hikes will increase demand for securities lending activity overall, leading to higher fees for loans—benefiting both Northern Trust and its clients. Trapp says the bank already has had to adapt to a regulatory environment that is stricter on borrowers and lending agents. “If regulations are revised to better align the risk with the required capital, or repealed altogether, then it should increase the loan activity and benefit borrowers and lenders in the securities-finance industry,” Trapp says.

—Frederick Waddell, chairman and CEO



Maybank Islamic

Maybank Islamic, the largest Islamic bank in ASEAN and one of the biggest globally, won this award due to its strong financial and operating performance and its proactive approach to developing products. Maybank Islamic is the Islamic banking arm of the Maybank Group, the Kuala Lumpur–based bank. The bank’s market share of global Islamic finance assets is around 5%, up from 1.3% in 2009. In 2016, Maybank Islamic’s gross financing recorded growth of 14% in deposits, and funding was up by 12%. Total income grew by 12% to $819 million. The bank is strongly capitalized, with a Basel III ratio above 18%.

The bank launched its Mudarabah Investment Account in July 2015, which grew to 31.5 billion ringgit ($7.2 billion) at the end of 2015. It was one of six Islamic banks to launch the first bank-intermediated fintech platform facilitating direct investment. Regionally, Maybank Islamic is expanding. Its focus in Singapore is to position operations as the funding center to support regional growth of Islamic banking. In Indonesia, the shariah unit of Maybank Indonesia recorded a profit before tax credit of 433 billion rupiah ($32.5 million), up 62% from 2015, with financing rising by 61% and deposits up by 71% to 11 trillion rupiah.

—Mohamed Rafique Merican, CEO




The past year was a disappointing one for most investment banks, although UBS had a strong fourth quarter. UBS displayed a superlative command over capital markets in the M&A arena, despite increasingly volatile asset prices. In the United States, the venerable Swiss bank was quick to spot an opportunity to advise regional US banks on mergers and acquisitions to increase their capitalization. The bank also showed a knack for orchestrating deals in cash. In one example, UBS served as the lead financial advisor to EverBank of Jacksonville, Florida, on its $2.5 billion sale to Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) in the largest all-cash M&A transaction since 2009, according to UBS. “The M&A market is white-hot at the moment,” says Piero Novelli, UBS global head of advisory. “We are putting extra focus on our most important clients and ensuring we give the greatest support to our most effective bankers.”

In global equity capital markets, UBS stood out last year among the bookrunners of several of the world’s most lucrative initial public offerings (IPOs). It got in on some of the hottest deals in Asia-Pacific, the only region in the world that saw solid growth in capital markets last year. UBS was bookrunner for the $7.4 billion IPO of Postal Savings Bank of China in September 2016, in the world’s biggest IPO since Alibaba raised $25 billion in 2014.

—Andrea Orcel, president, Investment Bank




Citi is leveraging Big Data and analytics to give corporate treasury customers enhanced levels of reporting and insights to drive better-informed decisions about cash, liquidity and investments. With regulations like Basel III putting greater pressure on banks’ ability to lend and accept short-term overnight deposits, corporations are more reliant than ever before on analytics, real-time transaction reporting and visibility of their cash balances on a global basis.

Every bank may claim to be investing in innovation, but some do considerably more than others. Citi not only consistently demonstrates commitment to upgrading its banking platforms and connectivity with customers, it is also the largest bank investor in fintech companies—an honor it shares with Banco Santander—according to KPMG and CB Insights’ “The Pulse of Fintech,” Q3 2016. Few banks can rival Citi’s reach, scale and entrepreneurship when it comes to developing solutions like TreasuryVision Liquidity Manager and the TreasuryVision Analytics toolkit.

—Naveed Sultan, global head of Treasury and Trade Solutions



BNP Paribas

Partly due to the cost and complexity of complying with anti-money-laundering and know-your-customer rules, there is a worsening global shortage of trade finance, according to the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce. The shortage is hitting small and midsize enterprises hardest, particularly those in emerging markets.

With a global network of more than 100 trade centers in 60 of the 74 countries where it operates, BNP Paribas provides a wide range of trade-finance solutions, including structured finance and customized supply-chain management, as well as Web-based platforms. The French bank works with more than 40,000 corporations across all industries worldwide and handles more than 14 million trade transactions a year.

BNP Paribas also offers databases and services to help corporate clients prospect internationally for trade partners. The bank has initiated a groupwide drive to digitize all of its activities and has been investigating the use of blockchain technology and distributed ledgers since 2011.

—Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, CEO




Supply-chain finance (SCF) remains the province of only a handful of large global trade banks, with some challenger banks emerging in the developing regions of the world. A consistent winner in this category, Citi boasts one of the most comprehensive SCF offerings of the global banks and has an unrivaled global presence in more than 70 markets across North America, Latin America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

SCF is part of the bank’s Treasury and Trade Solutions group, which saw continued growth in transaction volumes in 2016. Recent enhancements to its solutions include an automated, Web-based supplier-acquisition platform to streamline the supplier onboarding process. Clients looking to execute global cross-border SCF programs can rely on Citi’s local and regional market expertise. In addition to financing SCF programs, Citi’s Trade Risk Distribution team distributes SCF assets to a network of investors globally, a capability it is able to leverage to support the ongoing growth of a client’s SCF program.

—Naveed Sultan, global head of TTS




Swiss bank UBS has climbed to the top of the foreign-exchange world, thanks to its high level of customer support and innovative trading technology. The UBS Neo FX platform is efficient and easily customized for clients. Satisfied customers are handing UBS significant market-share gains. The bank tied for first place for global forex trading quality and market share in Greenwich Associates’ 2016 survey, which was based on interviews with nearly 3,000 corporate and financial users of forex services around the world.

With offices in 54 countries, UBS has global reach and expertise in FX derivatives. The bank has fine-tuned its business model for the post-crisis market environment and is firing on all cylinders. The bank’s second-quarter 2017 earnings were up 14% from the same period a year earlier.

—Sergio Ermotti, CEO



J.P. Morgan Asset Management

One of the largest asset-management organizations in the world, with $2.2 trillion under its wings, J.P. Morgan has done a deep dive into the livelier trends in the pension and institutional fields. While multiasset portfolios have long been a staple for the firm, multiasset and alternative strategies are now its largest categories—including investment strategies that seek to outperform an explicit benchmark over a market cycle and outcome-oriented approaches addressing specific challenges, such as risk mitigation, a return goal or a need to outperform liabilities. This also speaks to large pension investors’ growing desire for a tailored approach to their portfolios, as risk-mitigation and more explicit actuarial goals become priorities.

In 2014, investment solutions—tailored investment strategies that cut across investment styles and asset classes—totaled $9 trillion of institutional assets under management, or 13% of the global total, according to Boston Consulting Group. This was up from $2 trillion, or 6%, in 2003. That same year, J.P. Morgan created a global unit explicitly devoted to investment solutions. Rapid growth then followed.

—Mary Callahan Erdoes, CEO