Big Four (banking)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Big Four (or Big 4) is the colloquial name given to the four main banks in several countries where the banking industry is dominated by just four institutions and where the phrase has thus gained relevance.[1] Some countries include more or less institutions in such rankings, leading to other names such as Big Three, Big Five, or Big Six.

International use[edit]

Internationally, the term "Big Four Banks" has traditionally referred to the following central banks:[2][3]


In Australia, the "big four banks" refers to the four largest banks who have traditionally dominated Australia's banking industry in terms of market share, revenue and total assets.[4][5] The "big four banks" of Australia are:[6]

A longstanding policy of the Federal Government in Australia has been to maintain this status quo, called the four pillars policy. The policy has been maintained through the Global Recession of 2008–09, as Westpac acquired St George Bank and the Commonwealth Bank acquired Bankwest, reinforcing the special status of the "big four".


The "Big Four" banks of Austria are:[8]

*separate legal entities operating under a common brand


The big four banks of Belgium[9] are a result of national and international mergers in the early 90s.


In Brazil, the "big four", according to Exame Magazine[10] in 2017:

Name Description Year Net Assets
Itaú Unibanco Largest Private bank 2017 US$452.6 billion
Banco do Brasil Largest State Owned Bank 2017 US$430.2 billion
Caixa Econômica Federal State Owned Bank 2017 US$406.0 billion
Banco Bradesco Private Bank 2017 US$391.6 billion


According to the National Bank of Cambodia, the top three largest bank in Cambodia dominates 39.1% (The largest bank in term of total asset is Canadia Bank at 14.2%, followed by ACLEDA Bank at 12.7%, in third place Advanced Bank of Asia (ABA) at 12.2%) of the overall banking assets as of 2020. These banks are:[11]


There are five banks dominating the Canadian banking sector, hence the "Big Five"[12][13] is used instead of "Big Four".


During the 1920s, the term "big four" applied to the Four Northern Banks of the Republic of China (i.e., the four most capitalized commercial banks in Northern China).[14] These were the Yien Yieh Commercial Bank, the Kincheng Banking Corporation, the Continental Bank and The China & South Sea Bank. They were contrasted with the Three Southern Banks of Southern China.

By 1949, the "big four" banks were the Bank of China, the Bank of Communications, the Central Bank of China and the Farmers Bank of China. All four were state-owned. Together with Central Trust of China, Postal Savings and Remittance Bureau of China, and Central Cooperative Treasury of China, these banks were called the "four banks, two bureaus, one treasury" or "四行两局一库".[15]

In the People's Republic of China, the Big Five Banks ("五大银行") are:[16]

  1. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
  2. Bank of China
  3. China Construction Bank
  4. Agricultural Bank of China
  5. Bank of Communications

All five are state-controlled banks with commercial banking operations. Since Bank of Communications was refounded in 1986, it was sometimes excluded, leaving the rest as "Big Four".[16]


In Colombia, the ten biggest banking service networks are:[17][18]

Name Description Year Net Assets
Banco de Bogotá Largest Private Bank 2017 COP 3.6 trillion
Bancolombia Private Bank 2017 COP 2.6 trillion
Banco Davivienda Private Bank 2017 COP 1.204 trillion
Banco de Occidente Credencial Private Bank 2017 COP 932.827 billion
BBVA Colombia Private Bank 2017 COP 346.333 billion
Banco Agrario de Colombia [es] State owned Bank 2017 COP 339.410 billion
Banco Colpatria Private Bank 2017 COP 253.572 billion
Banco Caja Social [es] Private Bank 2017 COP 238.116 billion
Citibank Colombia Private Bank 2017 COP 172.051 billion
Banco Popular [es] Private Bank 2017 COP 156.033 billion

Czech Republic[edit]

In Czech Republic, according to R. Pazderník,[19] the "big four" are:




In France, according to The Banker,[20] the five major banking groups are:


Hong Kong[edit]

In Hong Kong, some media refer to the following as "big four":[21]

HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) and Bank of China (Hong Kong) are the three note-issuing banks; Hang Seng and HSBC Hong Kong are both under the common ownership of London-based HSBC Holdings plc. According to Global Retail Banking Cross-sell conducted by RFi group in 2015, HSBC, Bank of China (Hong Kong) and Hang Seng Bank were the top 3 most popular banks in Hong Kong.[22]


In India five largest banks, based on total assets, are:[23]


In Indonesia, the term "big four" is not explicitly used. As of 2018, the four largest banks by total assets are:[24]

BRI, Bank Mandiri and BNI are all controlled by the central government as state-owned enterprises.


In Ireland, the term "big four" applies to the four largest banks by market capitalisation.[25][26] These all operate in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and have a wider international presence; these banks also issue banknotes in Northern Ireland.[27]



In Japan, the term "big three"[29][30] is used instead of "big four". The "big three" are:

Japan had a "big four" between 2002 and 2005, when the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and UFJ Japan were still separate entities.[31] The two merged to form Mitsubishi UFJ, now the largest of the three, in 2005.

These banks are all listed in the Tokyo Stock Exchange (where they are constituents of the Nikkei 225 and TOPIX Core30 indices) and the New York Stock Exchange in the form of American depositary receipts; MUFG and SMBC Group are both additionally listed in the Nagoya Stock Exchange and serve as the financial arms of their respective namesake keiretsu (Mitsubishi for MUFG, Sumitomo and Mitsui for SMBC).


In Lebanon, where the banks have retained their banking secrecy laws since 1956, which is prevalent in the whole MENA region, and while adopting international measures to fight money laundering, the "big four" banks consist of:[32]

  • Bank Audi (founded in 1830 and ranked on the Forbes Magazine Global 2000 list of largest public companies in the world in 2016)
  • Byblos Bank (founded in 1950 as "Société Commerciale et Agricole Byblos Bassil Frères & Co.")
  • BLOM Bank: Banque du Liban et d'Outre-Mer S.A.L (founded in 1951)
  • Fransabank (founded in 1921 as Société Centrale de Banque)

Furthermore, as of September 2016, there are more than 51 banks in Lebanon, one of the smallest countries in the Middle East, the fact that has always made investors from the Arab countries, especially the GCC petrodollar in addition to the European and world investors, to place their funds in the Lebanese banks.


The "big four" full-service banks in Luxembourg are:[33]

There are bigger banks in Luxembourg, but these only deliver a limited number of services such as investment banking, private banking or corporate banking only. Luxembourg is a financial center.


According to Central Bank of Malaysia, the top four banks by assets size are:[34]


The "big four" in Mexico are:[35][36]


According to Asia Times, the four largest bank in Myanmar are:[37]


The "big four" banks in the Netherlands by market concentration are:[38]

The market leader for the Netherlands, ING Group, is one of the largest multinational banking and financial service corporations in the world, with products and services reaching over 41 countries worldwide.[39]

New Zealand[edit]

New Zealand is Australia's closest neighbour, with very close cultural and economic ties. The big four Australian banks (often referred to collectively as the 'big banks'[40][41][42] or the 'big Aussie banks') also dominate the banking sector in New Zealand, through subsidiaries:

Together they hold over 90% of gross loans and advances in New Zealand[43] as well as close to 90% of all mortgages.[44]

These four NZ subsidiaries are massively profitable and in some cases even outperform the Australian parent companies.[45] The extent to which they dominate the banking sector can be seen in profits: In the 2012/2013 financial year, the largest of the Big Banks, ANZ New Zealand, made a profit of NZ$1.37 billion. The smallest, BNZ, made a profit of NZ$695 million.[40] State-owned Kiwibank, community trust-owned TSB Bank, SBS Bank (formerly Southland Building Society) and Heartland Bank, the next four largest banks by profit, made NZ$97 million,[46] NZ$73.5 million,[47] NZ$14 million[48] and NZ$7 million (albeit with an underlying result of about NZ$30 million) respectively.[49] In other words, the profit of New Zealand's next four largest banks (after the Big Four) is equal to less than 30% of the smallest of the Big Four, BNZ.


The term "Big Five" is used instead of four, with five banks dominating the Nigerian banking world. In 2011, these top five banks had a combined balance sheet, including contingents, of 12.9 trillion naira ($821 billion), 33 percent higher than the prior year.[50]

North Macedonia[edit]

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, three largest banks in North Macedonia dominates 60% of the banking market share.[51]


The "top five" banks of Pakistan are:[52]



In Peru the "big four" are:[53]


The term "Big Four" is not explicitly used in the Philippines. The following are the four largest banks in the country in terms of total assets as of March 2020:[54]


The Romanian banking system has almost 40 banks, most of them detained by local financial vehicles, and some of them subsidiaries of foreign banks. The big four are as follows.

Other major banks are Raiffeisen Bank, Unicredit Bank and a subsidiary of the ING Bank of Holland.


Four largest banks by operations and assets in Russia by December 2020:[55][56]


In Singapore, the "Big Three" are:[57]

South Africa[edit]

In South Africa, the "big four" are:[58]

South Korea[edit]

In South Korea, the "Big Four" are:[59]


As of September 2021, the "big four" in Spain are:[60]

There were formerly a "big six" (los seis grandes) composed of three banks that are now part of BBVA (Banco de Bilbao, Banco de Vizcaya, and state-owned Banco Argentaria) and three now combined as Santander (Banco Central, Banco Hispanoamericano, and Banco de Santander).

Sri Lanka[edit]

In Sri Lanka, the leading banks are, as of 2020[61]

State owned banks,

Privately owned banks,

Foreign owned leading banks,


In Sweden the "big four" are:[62][63]


In Switzerland, the "big three" hold 45% of all customer deposits. They are:[64]


In Taiwan, the five "systemic banks" are:[65][66]


In 2014, the "big four"[67] together held over 66% of gross loans and controlled more than 67% of total assets in the banking system.[68]

Prior to the Siamese Revolution, the banking system was controlled by foreign powers, particularly the "big four" European banks.[69]: 160–169 


In 2021, the top three largest state-owned bank together held over 37.1% of market share, while the top four largest foreign-owned banks in Turkey dominates 22.9% of the overall market share.[70]

State-owned bank[edit]

Foreign-owned bank[edit]

United Arab Emirates[edit]

Based on total assets of listed banks at the end of 2017,[71][72] big five banks in United Arab Emirates are:

United Kingdom[edit]

England and Wales[edit]

In relation to England and Wales, the phrase "big four banks" is currently used to refer to the four largest banking groups:


In relation to Scotland, the phrase “big four” is currently used to refer to the four largest banking groups:

Northern Ireland[edit]

In relation to Northern Ireland, the phrase “big four” is currently used to refer to the four largest banking groups:

Historical use[edit]

Until 1970, the phrase "big five" (as opposed to “little six”)[76] was used to refer to the five largest UK clearing banks (institutions which clear bankers' cheques), which in England and Wales were:

After the merger of Westminster Bank, National Provincial Bank and District Bank to form National Westminster Bank (now part of NatWest Group) in 1970,[77] the term "big four" came into use instead.

United States[edit]

In the United States, the "big four" banks hold 45% of all U.S. customer deposits (as of 2018), and consist of:[78][79]

Regardless of the jurisdiction of charter, the legal entity of these banks are all subsidiaries of Delaware-chartered bank holding companies.

From a retail banking perspective, U.S. Bancorp (headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, bank chartered in Cincinnati, Ohio) and PNC Financial Services (headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, bank chartered in Wilmington, Delaware) both have significantly more branches than Citibank, the retail banking arm of Citigroup.[80] However, Citibank still has significantly more assets than U.S. Bancorp and PNC.[81]


In Vietnam, the four major banking groups are:[82]

See also[edit]


  1. ^, big banks, 2011.
  2. ^ Adler, Lee (25 June 2013). "The Big Four Central Banks Muddy The Same Sea of Liquidity". Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  3. ^ "Top 4 Banks dominating the global economy". Investopedia. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  4. ^ "Big four banks lower fixed rates". ABC News. 28 August 2008.
  5. ^ "Who really owns Australia's Big Four banks?". Finty Australia. 4 August 2020.
  6. ^ "'Big four' banks made huge profits as Australians took out bigger mortgages for pricier housing". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  7. ^ "Quiggin, J. (2001), 'The 'People's Bank': the privatisation of the Commonwealth Bank and the case for a new publicly-owned bank', Australian Options".[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Österreich - Größte Banken nach Bilanzsumme 2016". Statista.
  9. ^ "Grootbanken gaan bankautomaten samenvoegen: kosten besparen en betere spreiding". VRTNWS. 8 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Os 20 maiores bancos do Brasil em valor de ativos".
  11. ^ "National Bank of Cambodia Supervision Annual Report 2020" (PDF). Retrieved 25 April 2022. The largest bank in term of total asset is Canadia Bank at 14.2%, followed by ACLEDA Bank at 12.7%, in third place Advanced Bank of Asia (ABA) at 12.2%. Source: National Bank of Cambodia
  12. ^[bare URL PDF]
  13. ^ Kenton, Will. "The Big Five Banks in Canada". Investopedia. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  14. ^ Ji, Zhaojin (2003). A History of Modern Shanghai Banking. ISBN 9780765610034.
  15. ^ Yao Sui: Chinese Finance History, High Education Publisher in 2007, Beijing. (in Chinese: 《中国金融史》,姚遂 主编,高等教育出版社,2007年版)
  16. ^ a b 黎晨 [Li Chen] (2015). "Holding 'China Inc.' together: The restructuring of the centrally controlled financial system". China's Centralized Industrial Order. Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge. pp. 126–147. ISBN 9781317910558.
  17. ^ "El top 10 de bancos con mayores ganancias en Colombia a septiembre". 21 October 2016.
  18. ^ "Cinco bancos del país están entre los 50 más grandes de A. L".
  19. ^ Pazderník, R., Banking supervision in transition: Czech experience 1990-2000 (master's thesis, 2003), Charles University, Prague.
  20. ^ James King, "Top 1000 World Banks – French prudence pays off for top banks", The Banker, 1 July 2020.
  21. ^ "相關內地貸款逾四萬億". 東方日報 (in Chinese (Hong Kong)). Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  22. ^ "m18講場:你揀銀行同大部分港人有冇唔同?". on.cc東網 (in Chinese (Hong Kong)). 19 November 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  23. ^ Anup Jayaram (18 January 2021). "SBI, HDFC, , Canara Bank, Bank of Baroda stack up in digital banking". Business Today. Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  24. ^ Mediatama, Grahanusa (26 September 2018). "11 bank terbesar Tanah Air kuasai 63% aset perbankan". (in Indonesian). Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  25. ^ "Anglo Irish Bank Corporation (Executive Summary)". SME Financial. Archived from the original on 4 May 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2012. ...The only banks with higher market capitalisation were Allied Irish Banks (AIB) and Bank of Ireland, both with strong retail and commercial presences. Ulster Bank and National Irish Bank are the other members of the 'Big Four' retail and commercial banks, both owned by overseas parents and not listed on the Irish Stock Exchange
  26. ^ Hardiman, Cyril (12 February 2005). "'Big Four' Northern banks face probe on pricing and competition claims". Irish Independent. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  27. ^ "Current Banknotes :: Current Banknotes". Archived from the original on 13 September 2017. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  28. ^ Ryan, Susan. AIB's First Trust refunds £350,000 to customers over fee error, Business ETC, 30 November 2011. Accessed 14 April 2014.
  29. ^ "Japan's Biggest Banks See Profit Declining in Second Half". Bloomberg. 15 November 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  30. ^ Nakano, M., Financial Crisis and Bank Management in Japan (1997 to 2016) (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), p. 128.
  31. ^ "Swallow hard". The Economist. 15 July 2004.
  32. ^ "Top Lebanese Banks by Assets".
  33. ^ "Luxembourg Banking Insights 2015" (PDF). pwc. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  34. ^ Khoo, Daniel (6 February 2020). "Malaysia's top 3 banks need to maintain higher than normal capital needs". The Star. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  35. ^ Jiménez, Ismael (18 May 2015). "Los 20 bancos más grandes en México • Forbes México".
  36. ^ Navarro, María Fernanda (30 October 2017). "Los 10 bancos más grandes de México".
  37. ^ Oo, Dominic; W. Crispin, Shawn (2 June 2021). "Myanmar banks on edge of a coup-caused collapse". Asia Times. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  38. ^ "Nederlandse Bankensector "(dutch)"". Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  39. ^ "Products and Services". ING Group. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  40. ^ a b Parker, Tamsyn. NZ's big banks record $3.5b profit, The New Zealand Herald, 5 November 2013. Accessed 14 April 2014.
  41. ^ Gray, Jamie. NZ's big banks under pressure, The New Zealand Herald, 5 August 2011. Accessed 14 April 2014.
  42. ^ "Big Four banks' New Zealand profit up". Stuff. 9 November 2012.
  43. ^ "Insights - KPMG - NZ". KPMG. 9 February 2018.
  44. ^ "Kiwibank has the largest mortgage market share percentage growth in 2011; ANZ NZ adds the most volume".
  45. ^ Westpac NZ outperforms Australian parent, The New Zealand Herald, 16 August 2011. Accessed 14 April 2014.
  46. ^ Weir, James. Kiwibank lifts profit as customer base expands
  47. ^ TSB profit rises despite mortgage market competition, Radio New Zealand, 31 May 2013. Accessed 14 April 2014.
  48. ^ "SBS Bank lifts annual net profit nearly 22%". Radio New Zealand. 26 June 2013.
  49. ^ "Heartland sees core growth". Radio New Zealand. 26 August 2013.
  50. ^ "Business: The 5 Biggest Banks in Nigeria". Ventures Africa. 16 August 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  51. ^ "Banking Market". PricewaterhouseCoopers. Retrieved 13 October 2021. The three largest banks - Komercijalna Banka, Stopanska Banka Skopje (National Bank of Greece is the main shareholder) and NLB Tutunska Banka (NLB Group is the main shareholder) dominate in the banking system, holding together more than 60% of the total market activities.
  52. ^ "The top five banks in Pakistan".
  53. ^ Anon., "Top Banks in Peru 2019—Overview of Top 10 Banks", ADV Ratings, 2019.
  54. ^ "Ranking as to Total Assets – Universal and Commercial Bank Group as of March 31, 2020". Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. 1 April 2020. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  55. ^ "Рейтинг банков России". Коммерсантъ. 9 December 2020.
  56. ^ "Russia: Top 10 largest banks, by total assets 2020". Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  57. ^ "Top Banks in Singapore".
  58. ^ "Banks and foreign exchange in SA". EWN. Archived from the original on 28 November 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  59. ^ "Yonhap News Agency". Yonhap News Agency.
  60. ^ "Bancos más grandes de España - Economipedia". 19 July 2017.
  61. ^ "Sri Lanka Banking Sector: Status quo as of June 2018". 16 October 2018. Archived from the original on 2020-09-18.
  62. ^ Östlund, Carl-Viggo. "Kunderna gisslan hos storbankerna (The customers held hostage by the big banks) (swedish)". Archived from the original on 18 April 2013.
  63. ^ Anon., "Top Banks in Sweden 2019—Overview of Banking Industry", ADV Ratings, 1 December 2019.
  64. ^ Schweizer Finanzmonitor
  65. ^ "大到不能倒! 金管會公布5大系統性銀行名單", China Times, 27 June 2019.
  66. ^ Shih-ching, K., "Five banks given ‘important’ status", Taipei Times, 1 July 2019.
  67. ^ Editorial, Reuters (22 May 2015). "Fitch Affirms Thailand's 4 Largest Banks". Reuters.
  68. ^ "Foreign banks consider branching into Thai banking". 26 September 2014.
  69. ^ Brown, R. A., Capital and Entrepreneurship in South-East Asia: Studies in the Economics of East and South-East Asia (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan, 1994), pp. 160–169.
  70. ^ Abbas Taqi, Mohammad; Smith, Matt (8 March 2021). "Turkey's non-state banks have the edge in 2021 amid lira volatility, high rates". S&P Global. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  71. ^ "Revealed: Top 10 banks in the UAE". Gulf Business. 10 June 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  72. ^ Banker, The. "Top 1000 World Banks 2018 - Middle East". Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  73. ^ Kar-Gupta, Sudip. UK banks prepare for inevitable shake-up Archived 15 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Reuters, 1 September 2011. Accessed 14 April 2014.
  74. ^ Kar-Gupta, Sudip. UK to prioritise taxpayers as bank shake-up looms Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Reuters, 10 April 2011. Accessed. 14 April 2014.
  75. ^ The Big Four by D Rogers Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  76. ^ Morgan, Glenn and Sturdy, Andrew Beyond Organizational Change: Structure, Discourse and Power in UK Financial Services (p.57) Basingstoke: Macmillan Press, 2000
  77. ^ Pohl, Manfred Handbook on the History of European Banks (p.1232) Aldershot: Edward Elgar Publishing, 1994
  78. ^ "Citigroup posts 4th straight loss; Merrill loss widens". USA Today. Associated Press. 16 October 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  79. ^ Temple, James; The Associated Press (18 November 2008). "Bay Area job losses likely in Citigroup layoffs". The San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 5 December 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  80. ^ "Banks Ranked by Number of Branches".
  81. ^ "Banks Ranked by Total Assets".
  82. ^ Thuy, Ngoc; Anh, Tram (27 January 2021). "Vietnam banks are confident in business outlook in 2021". Hanoi Times. Retrieved 11 October 2021.