The success of this year’s 50 safest commercial banks is based on diversified businesses and newly imagined products.
The resilience of the institutions represented in this year’s ranking of the safest commercial banks will again be tested as the global economic outlook deteriorates. These commercial banks derive considerable stability from their diversified business models which include wealth and investment management, capital markets, trust and custodial services, but do not enjoy state support.
Many institutions emerged from the peak of the pandemic with refocused business models to provide improved products and services to their retail and corporate customers, and bank performance recovered as lending increased and profitability improved. . This progress faces a potentially rapid reversal given aggressive central bank rate hikes to fight inflation that will dampen global growth for the remainder of 2022 and into next year. As interest rates have risen, these commercial banks have benefited from increased net interest margins as variable rate loans are repriced and new loans are taken out at higher rates. While margins are expected to remain elevated through 2023, given the frequency and depth of restrictive monetary policy by global central banks, this advantage is likely to be offset by declining loan portfolios and rising credit costs as global economies contract.
This year’s ranking of the safest commercial banks includes some notable changes. Royal Bank of Canada rose to the top after an upgrade brought the giant bank’s score on par with smaller institutions. In its rationale for the January upgrade, Moody’s cited the bank’s robust and stable profitability, its diversified business model with dominant market shares in Canada, as well as a growing presence in the United States thanks to its City National Bank franchise. Canadian banks are consistently well represented in our annual rankings and RBC has held the top spot in three of the past four years, while three Canadian banks have made the top 10.
Two German entities fell in our ranking, with Moody’s downgrading DZ Bank (down four places to No. 11) and Deutsche Apotheker-und Aerztebank (down 10 places to No. 18) due to lower cushions. absorption of losses. As a result, the banks that complete our top 20 have moved up one or two positions.
Sweden returns three entities with Svenska Handelsbanken at No 4 while SEB fell 10 places to No 25 after the government eased regulatory requirements. On the other hand, Swedbank moved up six positions, to 26th place, with Fitch acknowledging the bank’s progress in strengthening anti-money laundering risk controls with an upgrade.
Australia’s four largest banks retained their positions based on rating stability, but Suncorp-Metway dropped out of our rankings as Fitch downgraded the bank’s rating following its planned sale to ANZ Group. The National Bank of Kuwait also dropped following Fitch’s downgrade following the downgrade of Kuwait’s sovereign rating in January. These actions helped Bank of China (Hong Kong) and NongHyup of South Korea enter this year’s rankings at 39th and 49th, respectively.
Methodology: Behind the rankings
According to the World’s Safest Banks ranking methodology, commercial banks that are majority state-owned or sponsored by their governments or regional bodies are excluded. Institutions here can operate in the same markets as state-sponsored competitors, but do not enjoy government support. In addition, institutions 100% owned by their parent company are not eligible under our criteria.