China trumps US in world’s most valuable banks list: report

China’s banking brands are now more valuable than those in the US, according to a new report by global branding ranking company Brand Finance.

According to the report, undertaken by the London-headquartered business valuation and strategy consultancy, the total value of Chinese bank brands surpasses that of US, for the first time thanks to the countries’ top banks financial fortunes moving in the opposite directions.

As well as China’s rise, the study highlights that US giant Wells Fargo loses its status as the world’s most valuable banking brand, with China’s ICBC is now the world’s most valuable brand worth US$47.8bn after a 32% growth spurt.

As a result of the changes to the brand value table (pictured left) the combined brand value of China’s lenders has surpassed that of the United States.

China’s bank brands account for 24% (US$258 billion) of the total brand value of the Brand Finance Banking 500, while the US accounts for 23%.

Brand Finance, which has offices in 20 different countries, values the brands of thousands of the world’s biggest companies.

The results of this analysis are then ranked, with the world’s 500 most valuable banking brands featured in the Brand Finance Banking 500.

Economic patriotism

In its report, Brand Finance said that its research shows that China’s consumers demonstrate “a lack of cynicism, an affinity for brands and economic patriotism that gives their banks a solid foundation that (post 2008) western banks cannot hope to match”.

Driving more recent growth has been accelerating Chinese foreign M&A activity. This hit a record high in 2016, providing opportunities for the country’s banks beyond its growing domestic market, the report said.

Brand Finance’s CEO David Haigh, said:  “Chinese banks are being carried along in the slipstream of its industrial giants as they grow and expand into international markets. Facilitating international deals boosts revenues, but more importantly, enables the banks to build their reputations with potential clients across the world.”

Already the world’s biggest bank by assets, ICBC’s brand value has grown 32% year on year to a total of US$ China Construction Bank and Bank of China are also growing strongly (by 17% and 13% respectively). The fastest growing brand this year is also Chinese. Harbin Bank’s brand has trebled in value over the course of 2016 to US$811m.

The success of the Chinese banks and ICBC in particular comes at the expense of Wells Fargo, which has lost its position as the world’s most valuable banking brand. Wells Fargo has also been the architect of its own misfortune, Brand Finance said. “Its fake accounts scandal has seen its reputation take a hit, with downgraded revenue forecasts contributing to a 6% brand value fall to US$41.6bn,” the report stated.

European woes

The situation for Europe’s banks is worse still with the most valuable bank brands from the UK, France, Germany and Italy (HSBC, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and Intesa Sanpaolo) have all declined in brand value.

Deutsche has recently been hit with a US$7.2bn bill to settle an investigation into its mortgage backed securities. 2016 also saw a 97% drop in profits and an individual bonus freeze for all VPs and MDs. Deutsche’s torrid year was reflected in its brand value, which is down 41% to US$4.9bn.

HSBC has declined by a less severe 5% to US$22.9bn as it goes through a period of consolidation. At the domestic level, over a quarter of its UK branches have been closed in the last two years while internationally, HSBC’s Brazilian business was sold to Bradesco. HSBC’s marketing communications have shifted to reflect its more geographically concentrated approach.

The ‘World’s Local Bank’ message has been replaced with campaigns that now focus more on HSBC’s role in facilitating personal and business ambitions.

Gary Robinson
Head of Video and Ezines at Open Door Media Publishing. Deputy Editor, International Investment. An experienced journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years' financial services experience, both as journalist and originally as a fully qualified IFA, Gary works across both International Investment and InvestmentEurope titles. Previous video production credits include projects on BBC, C4 and SKY.

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