The banking industry has an extensive and influential global presence, with numerous financial institutions holding trillions of dollars in assets. In this article, we will delve into the top 10 banks in the world in 2023, providing a comprehensive analysis of their operations, financial performance, and overall impact on the global economy. By examining the details of these top banks, we can better understand the modern financial landscape and how it shapes our world.
The dominance of bank-holding companies
Bank-holding companies play a significant role in the global banking landscape. These corporations control one or more banks but do not necessarily engage in banking themselves. They provide a strategic advantage by allowing for a diversified range of financial services under one umbrella, thus increasing the overall stability of the banks they hold.
1. JPMorgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase & Co. is an American multinational financial services firm headquartered in New York City and incorporated in Delaware. It is the largest bank in the United States and the world’s largest bank by market capitalization as of 2023. As the largest of Big Four banks, the firm is considered systemically important by the Financial Stability Board. Its size and scale have often led to enhanced regulatory oversight as well as the maintenance of an internal “Fortress Balance Sheet” of capital reserves. The firm is headquartered at 383 Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan and is set to move into the under-construction JPMorgan Chase Building at 270 Park Avenue in 2025.
The firm’s early history can be traced to 1799, with the founding of what became the Chase Manhattan Company. In 1871, J.P. Morgan & Co. was founded by J. P. Morgan who launched the House of Morgan on 23 Wall Street as a national purveyor of commercial, investment, and private banking services. The present company was formed after the two predecessor firms merged in 2000, creating a diversified holding entity. It is a major provider of investment banking services, through corporate advisory, mergers and acquisitions, sales and trading, and public offerings. Their private banking franchise and asset management division are among the world’s largest in terms of total assets. Its retail banking and credit card offerings are provided via the Chase brand in the U.S. and United Kingdom.
2. Bank of America
The Bank of America Corporation (often abbreviated BofA or BoA) is an American multinational investment bank and financial services holding company headquartered at the Bank of America Corporate Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, with investment banking and auxiliary headquarters in Manhattan. The bank was founded in San Francisco, California. It is the second-largest banking institution in the United States, after JPMorgan Chase, and the second-largest bank in the world by market capitalization. Bank of America is one of the Big Four banking institutions of the United States. It serves approximately 10.73% of all American bank deposits, in direct competition with JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo. Its primary financial services revolve around commercial banking, wealth management, and investment banking.
One branch of its history stretches back to the U.S.-based Bank of Italy, founded by Amadeo Pietro Giannini in 1904, which provided various banking options to Italian immigrants who faced service discrimination. Originally headquartered in San Francisco, California, Giannini acquired Banca d’America e d’Italia (Bank of America and Italy) in 1922. The passage of landmark federal banking legislation facilitated a rapid growth in the 1950s, quickly establishing a prominent market share. After suffering a significant loss after the 1998 Russian bond default, BankAmerica, as it was then known, was acquired by the Charlotte-based NationsBank for US$62 billion. Following what was then the largest bank acquisition in history, the Bank of America Corporation was founded. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, it built upon its commercial banking business by establishing Merrill Lynch for wealth management and Bank of America Merrill Lynch for investment banking in 2008 and 2009, respectively (since renamed BofA Securities).
3. China Construction Bank
China Construction Bank Corporation (CCB) is one of the “big four” banks in China. In 2015, CCB was the 2nd largest bank in the world by market capitalization and 6th largest company in the world. The bank has approximately 13,629 domestic branches. In addition, it maintains overseas branches in London, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, New York City, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, Santiago de Chile, Brisbane, Sydney and Auckland. Its total assets reached CN¥ 8.7 trillion in 2009, and it is considered a systemically important bank by the Financial Stability Board. Its headquarters is in Xicheng District, Beijing.
CCB was founded on 1 October 1954 under the name of People’s Construction Bank of China (Chinese: 中国人民建设银行; pinyin: Zhōngguó Rénmín Jiànshè Yínháng), and later changed to China Construction Bank on 26 March 1996. It was established in order to focus on financing for investments, in the context of the People’s Bank of China beginning to spin off its commercial banking functions.: 225
In January 2002, CCB Chairman Wang Xuebing resigned from the bank after being charged with accepting bribes while he was employed with Bank of China; he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. In March 2005, his successor, Zhang Enzhao, resigned for “personal reasons”. Just prior to his resignation, he had been charged in a lawsuit with accepting a US$1 million bribe. He was later sentenced to 15 years in jail in connection with the case.
4. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (ICBC; Chinese: 中国工商银行; pinyin: Zhōngguó Gōngshāng Yínháng) is a Chinese multinational bank.
Founded as a limited company on 1 January 1984, ICBC is a state-owned commercial bank. With capital provided by the Ministry of Finance of China, the bank’s Tier 1 capital in 2013 was the largest of one thousand global banks, being the first bank headquartered in China to achieve this distinction in modern history. Subsequently, ranked the largest bank in the world 2017 and 2018, by total assets, (31 December 2020, US$4.324 trillion), ICBC was positioned at 1st in The Banker’s Top 1000 World Banks ranking, every year from 2012, and first (2019) on the Forbes Global 2000 list of the world’s biggest public companies. ICBC is also the 3rd largest bank in the world by market capitalization at $211 billion (31-Dec-2022).
Furthermore, ICBC is considered one of the most profitable companies in the world, ranking fourth according to Forbes. It is considered a systemically important bank by the Financial Stability Board.
Several former employees of ICBC have moved on to work in prominent government positions in China. Notable ICBC alumni include Chairman of CSRC Huiman Yi, and Deputy Governor of PBoC Gongsheng Pan. From 1948 the mono-banking system of China was the People’s Bank of China, providing both policy lending, and, operations to the commercial sector. During 1978 to 1979 banking reform was initiated by the government of China, with the express desire of bringing into existence a central bank accompanying four total central governmentally owned specializing banks, one of these four being ICBC.
5. Agricultural Bank of China
Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), also known as AgBank, is one of the “Big Four” banks in China. It was founded on 10 July 1951, and has its headquarters in Dongcheng District, Beijing. It has branches throughout mainland China, Hong Kong, London, Tokyo, New York, Frankfurt, Sydney, Seoul, and Singapore.
ABC has 320 million retail customers, 2.7 million corporate clients, and nearly 24,000 branches. It is China’s third-largest lender by assets. ABC went public in mid-2010, fetching the world’s biggest ever initial public offering (IPO) at the time, since overtaken by the Saudi Arabian state-run petroleum enterprise, Saudi Aramco. In 2011, it ranked eighth among the Top 1000 World Banks, by 2015, it ranked third in Forbes’ 13th annual Global 2000 list and in 2017 it ranked fifth. It is considered a systemically important bank by the Financial Stability Board.
Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, ABC has been formed and abolished several times. On July 10, 1951, two banks of the Republic of China, Farmers Bank of China and Cooperation Bank, merged to form the Agricultural Cooperation Bank, which ABC regards as its ancestor. However, the bank was merged into People’s Bank of China, the central bank in 1952. The first bank bearing the name Agricultural Bank of China was founded in 1955, but it was merged into the central bank in 1957. In 1963 the Chinese government formed another agricultural bank which was also merged into the central bank two years later. Today’s Agricultural Bank of China was founded in February 1979. As the People’s Bank of China began spinning off its commercial banking functions after 1978, ABC’s focus on providing farmers with financial services increased.
6. HDFC Bank
HDFC Bank Limited (also known as HDB) is an Indian banking and financial services company headquartered in Mumbai. It is India’s largest private sector bank by assets and world’s fourth largest bank by market capitalisation as of July 2023, following its takeover of parent company HDFC. It is the third largest company(as of 6th September 2023) by market capitalisation of $150 billion on the Indian stock exchanges. It is also the sixteenth largest employer in India with nearly 1.73 lakh employees.
HDFC Bank was incorporated in 1994 as a subsidiary of the Housing Development Finance Corporation, with its registered office in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Its first corporate office and a full-service branch at Sandoz House, Worli were inaugurated by the then Union Finance Minister, Manmohan Singh.
As of 1 June 2023, the bank’s distribution network was at 8,344 branches and 19,727 ATMs across 3,811 cities.It has installed 4,30,000 POS terminals and issued 2.35 crore (23.5 million) debit cards and 1.2 crore (12 million) credit cards in FY 2017. It has a base of 1,77,000 permanent employees as of 1 June 2023.
7. Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company is an American multinational financial services company with a significant global presence. The company operates in 35 countries and serves over 70 million customers worldwide. It is a systemically important financial institution according to the Financial Stability Board, and is considered one of the “Big Four Banks” in the United States, alongside JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup.
Wells Fargo, in its present form, is a result of a merger between the original Wells Fargo & Company and Minneapolis-based Norwest Corporation in 1998. While Norwest was the nominal survivor, the merged company took the better-known Wells Fargo name and moved to Wells Fargo’s hub in San Francisco. At the same time, its banking subsidiary merged with Wells Fargo’s Sioux Falls-based banking subsidiary. Wells Fargo became a coast-to-coast bank with the 2008 acquisition of Charlotte-based Wachovia
The firm’s primary subsidiary is Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., a national bank that designates its Sioux Falls, South Dakota, site as its main office (and therefore is treated by most U.S. federal courts as a citizen of South Dakota). It is the fourth-largest bank in the United States by total assets and is also one of the largest as ranked by bank deposits and market capitalization. It has 8,050 branches and 13,000 automated teller machines. It is one of the most valuable bank brands. Wells Fargo is ranked 41st on the Fortune 500 list of the largest companies in the U.S.
8. HSBC Holdings PLC
HSBC Holdings plc (Chinese: 滙豐; formerly known as The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) is a British universal bank and financial services group headquartered in London, England, with historical and business links to East Asia and a multinational footprint. It is the largest Europe-based bank by total assets, ahead of BNP Paribas, with US$2.953 trillion as of December 2021. In 2021, HSBC had $10.8 trillion in assets under custody (AUC) and $4.9 trillion in assets under administration (AUA).
HSBC traces its origin to a hong trading house in British Hong Kong. The bank opened branches in Shanghai in 1865 and was first formally incorporated in 1866. In 1991, the present parent legal entity, HSBC Holdings plc, was established in London and the historic Hong-Kong-based bank from whose initials the group took its name became that entity’s fully-owned subsidiary. The next year (1992), HSBC took over Midland Bank and thus became one of the largest domestic banks in the United Kingdom.
HSBC has offices, branches and subsidiaries in 62 countries and territories across Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, North America, and South America, serving around 39 million customers. As of 2023, it was ranked no. 20 in the world in the Forbes rankings of large companies ranked by sales, profits, assets, and market value. HSBC has a dual primary listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the Hang Seng Index and the FTSE 100 Index. It has secondary listings on the New York Stock Exchange, and the Bermuda Stock Exchange.
9. Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley is an American multinational investment bank and financial services company headquartered at 1585 Broadway in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. With offices in 41 countries and more than 75,000 employees, the firm’s clients include corporations, governments, institutions, and individuals. Morgan Stanley ranked No. 61 in the 2021 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.
The original Morgan Stanley, formed by J.P. Morgan & Co. partners Henry Sturgis Morgan (a grandson of J.P. Morgan), Harold Stanley, and others, came into existence on September 16, 1935, in response to the Glass–Steagall Act, which required the splitting of American commercial and investment banking businesses. In its first year, the company operated with a 24% market share (US$1.1 billion) in public offerings and private placements.
The current Morgan Stanley is the result of the merger of the original Morgan Stanley with Dean Witter Discover & Co. in 1997. Dean Witter’s Chairman and CEO, Philip J. Purcell, became the Chairman and CEO of the newly merged “Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Discover & Co.” The new firm changed its name back to “Morgan Stanley” in 2001. The main areas of business for the firm today are institutional securities, wealth management and investment management. The bank is considered systemically important by the Financial Stability Board.
10. Bank of China
The Bank of China (BOC; Chinese: 中国银行; pinyin: Zhōngguó Yínháng) is a Chinese majority state-owned commercial bank headquartered in Beijing and the fourth largest bank in the world.
The Bank of China was founded in 1912 by the Republican government as China’s central bank, replacing the Qing Dynasty’s Ta-Ching Government Bank. It has been the second oldest bank in China still in existence after the Bank of Communications, founded in 1908. From its establishment until 1942, it issued banknotes on behalf of the Government along with the “Big Four” banks of the period: the Farmers Bank of China, Bank of Communications and Central Bank of the Republic of China. After the People’s Republic was established in 1949, it has become a national commercial and foreign exchange professional bank. Its original central bank designation was carried on by the newly formed People’s Bank of China.
As of 31 December 2019, it was the second-largest lender in China overall and ninth-largest bank in the world by market capitalization value, and it is considered a systemically important bank by the Financial Stability Board. As of the end of 2020, it was the fourth-largest bank in the world in terms of total assets, ranked after the other three Chinese banks.