Euromoney, is part of the Delinian Group, Delinian Limited, 8 Bouverie Street, London, EC4Y 8AX, Registered in England & Wales, Company number 00954730
Copyright © Delinian Limited and its affiliated companies 2023
Accessibility | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Modern Slavery Statement

Best Bank

all page content

all page content

Main body page content


  • It has been a busy few years for First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB). A change at the top of the institution last year saw Hana Al Rostamani ascend to the position of group chief executive, the first woman to lead the bank.
  • Ecobank Transnational ticks a lot of boxes. The Togo-headquartered bank is undeniably a true regional lender, with a presence in 33 sub-Saharan African markets, from the big (Nigeria, South Africa) to the tiny (São Tomé & Principe, Guinea-Bissau).
  • BTG Pactual isn’t new to winning Euromoney’s regional awards for excellence – but previous successes have been for the bank’s investment banking franchise. This year, Euromoney recognizes BTG Pactual’s successful reversal of the orthodox model of business evolution from retail and corporate banking to investment banking.
  • Erste Group’s long-term focus on European Union states in central and southeastern Europe proved to be particularly well judged this year. Other big banks in this region now face billions of euros of losses in Russia and major headaches in managing their operations in that state. Erste is the only major regional lender with negligible direct exposure to Russia.
  • Now, hear us out. A year ago, we were griping about Citi’s decision to sell consumer businesses in a clutch of Asian markets. The only way it made sense, we argued, was if Citi put its money where its mouth is: deployed the freed capital into its wealth and institutional businesses in Asia and doubled down on that with tangible action, rather than the proceeds just drifting into some vague balance-sheet objective.
  • Banking in Europe remains a national sport, with only a handful of domestic champions also running large businesses beyond their home markets. Banco Santander is recognized as the region’s best bank this year as a reflection of its progress in moving operations in Portugal, Spain and the UK onto a single operating platform along with those in Poland, which it also includes in its Europe division.
  • For PNC Financial, the US’s inaugural best super-regional bank, 2021 was a landmark year in a decade-long national expansion under chief executive Bill Demchak.
  • Bank of America is thriving. In its home market, it has led the way in retail banking with a distinctive preferred rewards programme that offers retail customers preferential rates across a full range of products from credit cards to mortgages.
  • Celebrating its 190th anniversary this year, making it older than the confederation of Canada itself, Scotiabank has quite a heritage. So does Brian Porter, its chief executive, who has been at the firm for his whole career, stretching back to 1981. But when he took the helm in 2013, his job was to reposition a bank that might best have been described as a mini-HSBC.
  • Under the leadership of Brian Moynihan, Bank of America has become the poster child for stakeholder capitalism in banking. Shareholders benefit; previous strong underwriting and ample liquidity enabled it to grow loans strongly in the pandemic recovery; and management is confident it can weather the coming downturn.
  • It’s a sign of a well-run bank when it not only survives a pandemic largely unscathed but uses it as an opportunity to gain ground. Characteristically, DBS’s Piyush Gupta not only kept the bank on course but used the crisis to make two potentially transformative acquisitions, launch two new exchanges and think afresh about what banking should look like.
  • It was another strong year for Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), which saw increased provisioning at the start of the pandemic but had good performance throughout and is now well placed to benefit from the post-crisis recovery. Once again it is Euromoney’s choice as Canada’s best bank.
  • Not the biggest but the most profitable. That’s the strategy of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) and it’s one that – with a return on average equity of 28.5% in 2020 – it is clearly achieving among its banking competitors in its home country Nigeria and also across Africa.
  • In a market of more than 5,000 banks, competition in the US is fierce. But among the clutch of sizeable regional banks, one firm has seen a remarkable transition since its IPO in 2014, under the steady leadership of chief executive Bruce Van Saun. Citizens wins the award for the US’s best bank.
  • It was the kind of year when solidity and stability mattered above all else, and Emirates NBD had both of those in spades. Under group chief executive Shayne Nelson, the Dubai-based lender is in pole position to benefit from a post-pandemic recovery, as a region of resource-rich nations, governed by ambitious leaders, seeks to diversify away from oil and gas.
  • A decade of work on reinforcing capital bases, managing bad debts, improving risk management processes and investment in technology paid off for the big regional banking groups in central and eastern Europe (CEE) during the first 12 months of the pandemic.
  • DBS retains the award for Asia’s best bank for its outstanding response to the Covid-19 crisis.
  • When David Vélez, co-founder and chief executive of Nubank, Latin America’s best bank, spoke to Euromoney in January 2021 he acknowledged just how powerful an engine the pandemic had been for the growth in digital banking. The Covid-19 lockdown led to such accelerated growth in new customer segments that the bank is seeing numbers that would have taken months or years to achieve in normal times.
  • Business diversification has proved to be a crucial asset for BNP Paribas over the past year. Relatively intact operations such as fixed income trading have provided vital props to its financial performance compared with local rivals that had made deeper cuts to those businesses pre-Covid. Post-pandemic the bank has become even more important as a financier to its western European clients. It has also moved earlier than other top-tier global banks to burnish its sustainability credentials.
  • JPMorgan was not the only bank that came into the Covid crisis with a strong balance sheet, but, as in 2008, the bank has shown that its diverse business lines and fortress balance sheet are what distinguishes it from the pack.
  • It was not the only bank that came into the Covid crisis with a strong balance sheet, but, as in 2008, the bank has shown that its diverse businesses provide plentiful earnings to take big reserves, even while it keeps financing large corporates and small businesses alike. Deposits have flooded in, technology investments have proved their worth and it is winning more business from mid-cap clients inside and outside the US – and it coped with the temporary absence of a legendary chief executive.
  • Latin America’s best bank this year is BBVA. The Spanish-headquartered bank has long been vulnerable to competitors’ claims that it was more a federation than an integrated network of subsidiaries, but the bank’s most recent performance shows that the management – overseen by Jorge Sáenz-Azcúnaga, head of country monitoring at BBVA – has addressed this weakness.
  • Tight labour markets and low interest rates put a floor under credit demand across central and eastern Europe last year and mitigated the effects on banking sectors of slowing economic growth, regulatory curbs on consumer lending and proliferating sectoral levies.
  • To succeed, you have to be national: for Bill Demchak, chief executive of PNC Financial Services, it’s the mantra that has guided his strategy since taking over the reins of the firm in 2013.
  • While it was hard before, the Covid-19 pandemic will make it almost impossible for most European banks to earn their cost of equity any time soon.
  • Banking is evolving in Saudi Arabia – the Gulf’s largest economy – with government and regulatory initiatives boosting growth in the sector.
  • Canada’s biggest bank is a regular winner of the award for Canada’s best investment bank, but in 2020 it has clocked up another accolade for the first time since 2004.
  • DBS is a bank at the top of its game. For the second year in a row, it not only wins the best bank in Asia award but canters away with it at high speed.
  • Kenya’s Equity Bank stands out as a modern financial institution, a domestic champion and a regional player. As a result, it receives this year’s award for Africa’s best bank.
  • DBS regains the best bank in Asia award it first won three years ago, for showing how innovation, digital vision and creative thinking can not only sound good but also translate into record profits and resilient margins.