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Awards for Excellence

Euromoney names the world’s best banks in its 2021 Awards for Excellence

DBS is the world’s best bank and Morgan Stanley is the world’s best investment bank in Euromoney’s 2021 Awards for Excellence. New awards recognise financial innovation and the growing importance of ESG in banking.


DBS is named the world’s best bank in Euromoney’s Award for Excellence 2021.

Selecting the bank as the world’s best for the second time in two years, the magazine points out that the last year has been a testing ground for much of what DBS has been focusing on for years, particularly in terms of digital solutions. The past 12 months have given DBS the opportunity to demonstrate why – and it has come through with flying colours. The bank is now emerging from the pandemic in better shape than it entered it, which is no small achievement.

“DBS wins our highest award this year for not just surviving the pandemic, not just staying profitable and robust, but for using it as a spur to do things differently and better,” the magazine explains. “Indeed, although DBS did plenty that was admirable in its existing operations, it was really the brazen new stuff that caught the eye.”

This included two potentially transformative acquisitions and the launch of two new exchanges, one around digital assets and one around carbon markets. “No other bank has been so dynamic during the review period,” Euromoney states.

DBS is also recognised as the world’s best digital bank. “To be great at digital is no mean feat,” the editors observe. “Clever solutions often reveal new problems or opportunities to be addressed or seized. So, success is secured in part by keeping things simple – evidenced by DBS’s three-point plan: being digital to the core; embedding itself in the customer journey; and always thinking and acting like a start-up.”

Morgan Stanley is named the world’s best investment bank for its overwhelmingly deft navigation of the highs and lows of a turbulent period in the markets.

“After a year in which Morgan Stanley not only coped with everything the coronavirus pandemic could throw at it, but also transformed itself with acquisitions that have positioned it to attack new opportunities and further enhance its core attributes, the firm looks stronger than ever,” Euromoney says.

This year, the magazine introduced a new awards category that recognises financial innovation. The inaugural winner of this award is the EIB’s €100 million two-year digital bond, joint lead managed by Goldman Sachs, Santander and Societe Generale. The groundbreaking bond was issued, registered and settled on Ethereum, and is the debt capital market’s first multi-dealer-led, primary issuance of digitally native tokens on an open public blockchain.

“It was quite a breakthrough in part because it looked so much like a normal bond,” Euromoney notes. “This raises as many questions as answers. It remains unclear whether representations of non-native securities may increasingly trade in tokenized form and the vast stock of pre-existing debt and equity also move onto blockchain.”

Multiple winners in global categories include Morgan Stanley, which in addition to its investment bank win is named best bank for financial institutions and best bank for advisory. Goldman Sachs triumphs as best bank for financing and best bank for markets. Citi is named best bank for corporates and best emerging markets investment bank.

UBS again takes home the award for wealth management, while Bank of America is recognised for payments and treasury, and BNP Paribas for best bank for public-sector clients.

DBS is not the only Asia-based bank to perform strongly in the global awards this year: Singapore-based UOB is named the best bank for SMEs, while the best bank in the emerging markets is Indonesia’s Bank Central Asia.

One of the most hotly contested categories in the global awards is that of the world’s best bank for sustainable finance. This year the honours go to BNP Paribas, long a pioneer in this regard.

“Over our awards period, Morgan Stanley’s cutting-edge product innovation across divisions impressed, as did Goldman Sachs’ client-focused approach, Societe Generale’s work in gnarly sectors – such as metals and mining – HSBC’s development of nature finance and Standard Chartered’s drive to bring sustainability to emerging markets,” the magazine points out. “However, BNP Paribas can genuinely claim to have brought sustainability into the mainstream of its operations, making it a worthy winner of this year’s award.”

Euromoney has expanded its range of ESG awards categories this year. In addition to Bank of America being named best bank for corporate responsibility, Santander beat the competition to best bank for financial inclusion and Goldman Sachs wins the diversity and inclusion category. In new categories, BNP Paribas is named best bank for ESG data and technology, and Citi takes the inaugural award for best bank transition strategy.

Euromoney’s award for best bank transformation this year goes to Spain’s CaixaBank for the progress that has been made on its transformational merger with Bankia.

“The Caixa-Bankia merger is about more than achieving scale,” Euromoney points out. “It is an attempt to transform the enlarged business, move beyond reliance on net interest income and build a national champion in bancassurance that might one day play a leading role in European consolidation.”

About the Awards for Excellence

Euromoney’s Awards for Excellence were established in 1992 and were the first of their kind in the global banking industry. They remain the worldwide gold standard in this regard and are determined by an editorial panel of judges following a three-month research and interview process. This year, the magazine received a record 1,300 pitches from banks across the globe for its country, regional and global awards categories.

To access the results, contact Austin Ou Yang at +44 (0) 20 7779 8531 or austin.ouyang@euromoneyplc.com.

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