The current financial crisis has plunged much of the world into an economic malaise not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. it has resulted into the collapse of the housing market, foreclosures and higher unemployment. Stock markets have taken a downturn, even as governments try to bail out banks that are considered as too big to fail.
While large financial institutions have been both victims and culprits of the global crisis, it is still probably safer to keep your funds with big banks. They have the assets and the equity to back them up in times of problems, and even if they do start to fail, its size and effect on the economy mean that they are likely to be supported by the government.
Here are the top ten largest banks in the world in terms of assets.
1. Deutsche Bank, Germany – $2.8 trillion in assets
It is headquartered in their Twin Towers in Frankfurt. It maintains offices in all the major and emerging markets, employing more than a hundred thousand people spread over 70 countries. The bank is one of the largest dealers of foreign exchange in the world, controlling over a fifth of the market.
2. HSBC, United Kingdom – $2.6 trillion in assets
The banks roots can be traced to 1865 when it opened offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai in China, thus the name HSBC, which stands for Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. In 1991, HSBC Holdings plc was established to serve as the holding company and to enable its purchase of Midland Banks in the United Kingdom. The bank is based in London, but has a presence in 85 countries and territories around the world.
3. BNP Paribas, France – $2.5 trillion in assets
The bank is a result of a merger between Banque Nationale de Paris and Paribas in 2000. It is based in Paris, though it also has a global headquarter in London. It considers France, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg as its domestic markets. Its main focuses are on retail banking, corporate and investment banking, and investment solutions. The last one includes asset management, real estate services and custodial banking.
4. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China – $2.4 trillion in assets
initially established in 1984 as a limited company, ICBC is one of the Big Four banks based in China that are owned by the state. The others are the Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China and the China Construction Bank. ICBC is the largest in the world in terms of profit and market capital.
5. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Japan – $2.4 trillion in assets
The bank is the fruit of a merger in 2005 by the second and fourth largest banking groups in Japan, namely the Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group, or MTFG, based in Tokyo and UFJ Holdings based in Osaka. Based in Chiyoda in Tokyo, the financial institution is one of the main companies of the giant Mitsubishi group. It is the second largest bank in the world in terms of deposit holdings.
6. Credit Agricole, France – $2.4 trillion in assets
In terms of retail banking, Credit Agricole is the largest bank in France and the second largest in the whole of Europe. It has branches in more than 60 countries and serves more than 21 million clients. It has also been listed as the second largest cooperative in the world. The strategy that the bank follows is the development of a major presence in the different banking markets of Europe by purchasing a significant stake in the different local banks.
7. The Barclays Group, United Kingdom – $2.4 trillion in assets
This is a British bank and financial services company based in London. Known for its sponsorship of the English Premier League, Barclays has a presence in more than 50 countries all over the globe and serves more than 48 million customers. It has a universal bank status and is engaged mostly in corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management, and retail and business banking.
8. The Royal Bank of Scotland, United Kingdom – $2.3 trillion in assets
The Royal Bank of Scotland, or the RBS Group, is a British banking and insurance holding firm based in Edinburgh in Scotland. More than 80 percent of its shares are held by the British government, though the government’s voting rights are limited to only 75 percent to allow the bank to maintain its listing in the London Stock Exchange. The RBS Group controls several banks that have been around for quite some time, including (1) The Royal Bank of Scotland plc, which was established in 1727 through a Royal Charter by King George I, (2) the National Westminster Bank, which was founded in 1650 as the Smith’s Bank of Nottingham, and (3) the Dublin-based Ulster Bank, which began operations in 1836.
9. JP Morgan Chase, United States – $2.3 trillion in assets
This financial giant was established in 2000 when the Chase Manhattan Corporation merged with J.P. Morgan & Co. it is the largest bank in the United States, and it is also considered as the second largest public company in the world. It is a major provider of financial services and its hedge funds are one of the largest in the country. The merger proved to be a perfect marriage, with J.P. Morgan focusing on investment banking, asset management, private banking, wealth management and treasury and security services. Chase’s major competencies, on the other hand, are in the fields of commercial banking, retail banking, and credit card services in the U.S. and Canada.
10. Bank of America, United States – $2.1 trillion in assets
The bank is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, but has a presence in more than 150 countries. Clientele includes 99 percent of the Fortune 500 companies based in the U.S. and 83 percent of the magazine’s global 500. It is the largest wealth management corporation in the world and is considered a major player in investment banking after it purchased Merrill Lynch in 2008.
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