Banks are one of the oldest institutions in human society. Evidence for the existence of primitive banking institutions within the first established culture in the world, ancient Mesopotamia, appears in the various cuneiform texts and business receipts discovered in the desert sands over the past two hundred years. It is a very subjective matter to attempt to distinguish one bank from another, and to designate one as being better than its competitor, but we will approach this from the perspective of selecting the largest and most secure banks for this list of the 10 best banks of 2013. These ten most secure banks are ranked according to global financial data compiled by the United Nations, in cooperation with a branch of the World Bank known as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The following list appears in their publications.
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10. Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations
Founded in 1816, the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (Deposits and Consignments Fund) is a federally controlled bank of France. Emperor Louis XVIII is responsible for its founding, established under the “New Republic” with the intent of rebuilding France’s economy following the Napoleonic wars. This financial institution continues to this day to keep the nation of France, and the French economy, in stable condition despite the numerous political and social upheavals in recent years.
9. Bank of America Corporation
According to Forbes Magazine, Bank of America is the third largest corporation in the world, with assets in excess of two trillion dollars. With multitudes of branches in all 50 of the American states, it holds almost 15% of all American citizen’s bank deposits.
8. Royal Bank of Scotland
Founded in 1727, the Royal Bank of Scotland is credited with the invention of “overdraft protection”, first instituted in 1728. It currently has about 700 branches, most of which are on the British Isles. One of the interesting features of its history is that the bank was the primary financier of the Jacobite Rebellion in the first half of the eighteenth century.
7. Japan Post Bank Company Limited
Part of the Japan Post Holdings group, this bank is the largest holder of bank deposits in the world. The bank was established in 2006, but its links to the Postal service push its establishment back to 1875.
6. Barclays Bank PLC (Public Limited Company)
With its world headquarters in London, England, Barclays is the seventh largest bank in the world. Its history goes back over 300 years.
5. HSBC Holdings
The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) is headquartered in London England. In terms of assets it is the largest bank in the world. It holds assets of $2.7 trillion dollars.
4. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)
From the perspective of profit and market capitalization, the ICBC is the largest bank in the world. Its assets currently stand at just under $2 trillion dollars. Forbes Magazine has listed it as the world’s largest public holding company. It has also been ranked as the number one bank in the world by bankers according to The Financial Times magazine.
3. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFJ)
With assets in excess of $2.5 trillion dollars, MUFJ is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Its earliest history can be traced to the Yokohama Specie Bank established in 1880.
2. BNP Paribas SA
By measure of total assets, BNP Paribas SA is the fourth largest bank in the world. It has recently received the “Bank of the Year” award by the International Financing Review board. It employs over 200,000 people worldwide, and is headquartered in Paris, France.
1. Deutsche Bank AG
Literally translated the “German Bank”, Deutsche Bank is the largest foreign exchange dealer on the planet. It has major financial offices in many of the largest cities on earth, including New York City, Hong Kong, Sydney, London, Frankfurt and many others. It was founded in Berlin in 1870.
In addition to the above 10 best banks of 2013, the top ten largest banks in terms of global market capitalization – counting down from ten to one – are as follows: The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, The Bank of China, Bank of America, Citigroup, The Agricultural Bank of China, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Wells Fargo & Co, HSBC Holdings, China Construction Bank, and in the number one spot The Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).
Banking institutions are both a blessing and a curse. Although there are many elements of modern banks which can be properly criticized, including those manipulations which created the 2008 banking crisis, there are also many positive benefits from banks. Without them, most small businesses would never be able to become established, and most people would never be able to acquire a home. So in the end, the 10 best banks of 2013 is really a matter of personal opinion.