Commercial Banks Guide

This article will take you on a virtual tour around some of the world’s strongest and most prosperous commercial banks.

The banking system of Canada is regarded as the safest and most efficient banking system in the world. The top-five Canadian commercial banks are the Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank, Bank of Montreal, the Bank of Nova Scotia, and CIBC. All listed banks are publicly traded on the stock exchanges in Toronto and New York, yielding annual dividends from securities and common shares to the shareholders. Major examples of the second echelon of commercial banks in Canada are the National Bank of Canada, the Mouvement Desjardins (an alliance of credit unions) and HSBC Bank Canada. These second tier banks operate primarily at the home market, focusing primarily on retail banking and financial services for small and medium sized businesses.

Of all American commercial banks, Wells Fargo is attention-worthy for its flexible and highly successful business strategy which has allowed them to keep a positive credit rating in the harsh conditions of the global financial crisis. Other banks with strong presence in the US banking scene are Citigroup which has been cited as the largest bank in the world for 2009; Bank of America which is the country’s largest bank by assets and deposits; Taunus Corporation which is the North American subsidiary of Germany’s Deutsche Bank.

The country of sushi, samurai, and the rising sun is also a financial empire, continuously expanding its real of influence on the international markets. At the beginning of 1990s, Japan had fourteen big commercial banks and a network of sixty-four smaller regional banks. Since then, the number of commercial banks has increased so much that the financial experts advise the Japanese government to refuse bailing out the insolvent financial institutions. Recent analyses have featured Mizuho Bank Ltd as the strongest commercial bank in the country. The net income of Mizuho Group at the end of the first quarter of 2009 amounted to slightly below $36 million while their cash dividends were at US $1.3 million. Sumitomo Mitsui Bank and Mitsubishi Bank also play a key role on the commercial banking market in Japan.

The next stop is Russia. After the fall of communism, the commercial banking sector underwent a rapid development and by 1995, the number of commercial banks was just under 3,000. However, most of these banks were small and their financial reliability was dubious. Nowadays, Russia’s commercial banking sector is based on large, viable, and highly-reliable banks. The Soviet-era Savings Bank (Sberbank) is currently Russia’s strongest and largest commercial bank. Russia’s MDM Bank is a leading independent provider of integrated financial services.

Nationwide, Lloyds, and HSBC are all fine on the other side of the Atlantic, but consumers have rated the nationalized Northern Rock as the safest bank in the UK. HSBC is the most popular commercial bank. This institution offers a wide range of offshore savings and financing solutions, including their Premier Service: an individually tailored package of exclusive financial services accessible from the client`s whereabouts.

Returning to the continent, the first stop is Italy, the cradle of the European banking. Italians are proud of having the oldest bank in the world. Monte dei Paschi di Siena has functioned as a bank since 1472. The club of Italy’s most reliable commercial banks also includes UniCredit SpA, Banca Populare di Milano, Intesa Sanpaolo Group, and Banca Nazionale del Lavoro.

The main engines of the commercial banking sector in Germany are Landesbank Berlin, Dresdner Bank, Commerzbank, Sparkasse, Postbank, etc. They operate under the supervision of Deutsche Bundesbank. Most of them have retail banking divisions as well as business and corporate banking units.

The last stop of the journey is France. The French Commercial Banks are controlled by the Committee for Banking and Financial Control of the Banque de France. The French banking system revolves around three major networks - the French Banking Association AFB, the mutual and cooperative banks, and the Treasury, including the French Postal Services and the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations. The main banking groups are: Société Générale, Crédit Agricole, Natixis, BNP Paribas, and Banque Populaire.

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