With speculation rife that Deutsche Bank may be on the brink of collapse under the weight of a massive fine from the US Department of Justice, the safety and security of financial institutions is once again under the spotlight.
As a result, we decided to take a look into the countries around the world with the safest banks, using the World Economic Forum’s recently-released Global Competitiveness Survey, which offers a bundle of indicators to show the health of a country’s institutions.
One of those is the perceived safeness of banks.
WEF used its executive opinion survey to ask “in general, how do you perceive the soundness of banks?”
So the measure isn’t based on any objective economic or accounting measure, but rather by the perceptions of the population. The countries are ranked from 1 (banks need more money) to 7 (banks are generally sound).
The survey showed that people in the UK and US really don’t trust their banking systems after the 2008 financial crisis. The UK was ranked 62nd and the US came in at 36th, below Guatemala, Colombia, and Honduras.
Check out the countries with the safest banks below.
14. Czech Republic — The Czech banking sector is unusual in that foreign-owned lenders dominate the industry, but consumers don’t seem to mind, ranking them the 14th safest in the world.
13. Guatemala — The densely populated Central American nation of 15.5 million people has three key players in its banking system — Banco Industrial, Banco G&T Continental, and Banco de Desarrollo Rural. All three are seen as being fairly sound, according to the WEF’s survey.
12. Luxembourg — It’s no surprise Luxembourg scores highly, as the country is famous for its financial sector. Its Banque et Caisse d’Épargne de l’État is often cited as one of the safest on earth.
11. Panama — As the country has no central bank, Panamanian lenders are run conservatively, with capital ratios almost twice the required minimum on average. Traditionally seen as a tax haven, the country has made substantial strides to shake off that reputation since the financial crisis.
10. Sweden — Although Swedish lenders are being squeezed by the Riksbank’s negative interest rate policy, Swedish banks are still among the safest in the world, according to the WEF.
9. Chile — In July, ratings agency Fitch cut the outlook of the country’s banking system to negative, based on “weakening asset quality and profitability,” but that hasn’t spooked Chileans, according to the WEF.
8. Singapore — Singapore is renowned as one of the world’s great financial centres, and the soundness of its banking sector reflects that.
7. Norway — As an oil-reliant economy, Norway has faced serious issues in recent years, and in August, its banking system had its outlook cut to negative by Moody’s. However, the country’s banks remain very sound, the WEF’s survey suggests.
6. Hong Kong — Another global financial centre, Hong Kong is home to arms of most of the world’s biggest banks, and some of the world’s safest financial institutions.
5. Australia — A small group of four major banks divide up most of Australia’s banking sector, while foreign banks are tightly regulated, making sure the system is sturdy.
4. New Zealand — New Zealand’s banking sector is dominated by a group of five financial players. Decent profits and growth without too much competition has seen the sector thrive, although it slips from second last year to fourth in 2016.
3. Canada — Canadian banks have long been a byword for stability. The country has had only two small regional bank failures in almost 100 years, and had zero failures during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Last year, the country’s banks were seen as the safest on earth, so confidence has clearly slipped a little.
2. South Africa — South Africa’s so-called ‘Big Four’ — Standard Bank, FirstRand Bank, Nedbank, and Barclays Africa — dominate the country’s consumer sector, and are widely seen to be pretty safe, with only one other nation scoring higher.
1. Finland — Finland’s banking sector is dominated by co-operative and savings banks, which take little risk. The country’s central bank governor, Erkki Liikanen, below, has led the way on proposals to split investment banking and deposit-taking activities at European lenders. Ranked fourth in 2015’s list, Finland’s banks have got even safer this year.
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