Big Four (banking)
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 currency. Some countries include more or less institutions in such rankings, leading to other names such as Big Three, Big Five, or Big Six.
In Australia, the "big four banks" refers to the four largest banks by market share, who between them hold 80% of the home loan markets in the country. In 2012, their combined total asset is A$2.66 trillion, which is about 200% of Australian GDP in 2011. In order of total assets, these are:
- National Australia Bank (NAB)
- Commonwealth Bank (CommBank) (was owned by the Australian Government until 1996)
- Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)
- Westpac (WBC)
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".
Being New Zealand's closest neighbour, with very close ties culturally and economically, has helped Australia dominate the banking sector there. Often referred to collectively as the 'big banks' or the 'big Aussie banks', the "Big Four" Australian banks also dominate the New Zealand banking sector in the form of:
- Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, or ANZ, also comprising the former business of The National Bank.
- ASB Bank, formerly Auckland Savings Bank, wholly owned by the Commonwealth Bank
- The Bank of New Zealand (BNZ), wholly owned by the National Australia Bank
- Westpac, formerly known as WestpacTrust after a merger with the Trust Bank.
These four subsidiaries are massively profitable and in some cases even outperform the Australian parent companies. 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. 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, NZ$73.5 million, NZ$14 million and NZ$7 million (albeit with an underlying result of about NZ$30 million) respectively. 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.
- Erste Bank / Sparkasse* (credit unions)
- UniCredit Bank Austria (formerly Bank Austria Creditanstalt)
- Raiffeisen Bankengruppe*
- Österreichische Postsparkasse
*separate legal entities operating under a common brand
- KBC Bank, including its CBC Banque subsidiary in the French Community of Belgium and KBC Brussels brand in the Brussels-Capital Region
- Belfius, government owned bank
- BNP Paribas Fortis, subsidiary of BNP Paribas
- ING Bank, subsidiary of the ING Group
|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|
- Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
- Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)
- Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)
- Bank of Montreal (BMO)
- Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
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). 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".
- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
- Bank of China
- China Construction Bank
- Agricultural Bank of China
- Bank of Communications
|Banco de Bogotá||Largest Private Bank||2017||COP 3.6 trillions|
|Bancolombia||Largest Private Bank||2017||COP 2.6 trillions|
|Banco Davivienda||Largest Private Bank||2017||COP 1.204 trillions|
|Banco de Occidente Credencial||Private Bank||2017||COP 932.827 billions|
|BBVA Colombia||Private Bank||2017||COP 346.333 billions|
|Banco Agrario de Colombia [es]||State owned Bank||2017||COP 339.410 billions|
|Banco Colpatria||Private Bank||2017||COP 253.572 billion|
|Banco Caja Social [es]||Private Bank||2017||COP 238.116 billions|
|Citibank Colombia||Private Bank||2017||COP 172.051 billions|
|Banco Popular [es]||Private Bank||2017||COP 156.033 billions|
- Česká spořitelna, subsidiary of Erste Group
- Československá obchodní banka, subsidiary of KBC Bank
- Komerční banka, subsidiary of Société Générale (formerly Státní banka československá, or State Bank of Czechoslovakia)
- Investiční a poštovní banka.
Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong), HSBC and Bank of China (Hong Kong) are the three note-issuing banks. 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.
In Ireland, the term "big four" applies to the four largest banks by market capitalisation. 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.
- Bank of Ireland;
- Allied Irish Banks; and
- Ulster Bank Ireland, a wholly owned subsidiary of NatWest Group.
Ever since National Irish Bank phased out its personal banking services, it has been suggested that either KBC Ireland or Permanent TSB could replace, in the medium-term, National Irish Bank in its "Big Four" ranking.
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:
- Audi Saradar Bank (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.
- Banque et Caisse d'Épargne de l'État (Spuerkeess), state owned bank
- Banque Internationale à Luxembourg,
- BGL BNP Paribas
- ING Luxembourg
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.
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.
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:
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.
- Banca Comercială Română, now part of the Erste Group
- Banca Transilvania, the biggest bank detained by private investors with domestic capital
- BRD – Groupe Société Générale, formerly known as Romanian Bank for Development
- CEC Bank, the state-owned bank, formerly known as Casa de Economii și Consemnațiuni
Other major banks are Raiffeisen Bank, Unicredit Bank and a subsidiary of the ING Bank of Holland.
- Absa Group Limited, majority owned by Barclays between 2005 and early 2018.
- FirstRand Bank (operators of First National Bank)
- Nedbank - minority-owned by Old Mutual.
- Standard Bank (Spun off from Standard Chartered Bank in 1987)
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 Banco Argentaria) and three now combined as Santander (Banco Central, Banco Hispanoamericano, and Banco de Santander).
- CTBC Bank
- Cathay United Bank
- Taipei Fubon Bank
- Mega International Commercial Bank
- Taiwan Cooperative Bank
- The Hongkong and Shanghai Bank in 1888 (Now HSBC)
- The Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China in 1894 (Now Standard Chartered Bank Thailand)
- Banque de l'Indochine in 1897 (Now Banque Calyon, a subsidiary of Crédit Agricole)
- Mercantile Bank of India in 1923 (Now Citibank Thailand, a subsidiary of Citigroup)
United Arab Emirates
England and Wales
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:
- Royal Bank of Scotland (NatWest Group);
- Bank of Scotland (Lloyds Banking Group);
- Clydesdale Bank (Virgin Money UK); and
- TSB Bank (Banco Sabadell).
In relation to Northern Ireland, the phrase “big four” is currently used to refer to the four largest banking groups:
- Bank of Ireland;
- Ulster Bank (NatWest Group);
- Northern Bank trading as Danske Bank; and
- Allied Irish Banks.
Until 1970, the phrase "big five" (as opposed to “little six”) was used to refer to the five largest UK clearing banks (institutions which clear bankers' cheques), which in England and Wales were:
- Barclays Bank (now part of Barclays);
- Midland Bank (now HSBC Bank and part of HSBC);
- Lloyds Bank (now part of Lloyds Banking Group);
- National Provincial Bank; and
- Westminster Bank.
- JPMorgan Chase (headquartered in New York, New York, bank chartered in Columbus, Ohio)
- Bank of America (headquartered and bank chartered in Charlotte, North Carolina)
- Citigroup (headquartered in New York, New York, bank chartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
- Wells Fargo (headquartered in San Francisco, California, bank chartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
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. However, Citibank still has significantly more assets than U.S. Bancorp and PNC.
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