Europe is home to several largest world banks that are well-known in the financial world as examples of ultimate success. They provide a number of financial products and services to individuals, corporations, and even governments, and they are always in demand no matter what happens in the world. In this article, you will find out which banks in Europe are the largest players on the continent in 2023 and take a look at their total assets, history, and influence on the global financial system.
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What is the Largest Bank in Europe?
HSBC Holdings PLC, a UK-based financial institution, is the largest bank in Europe by the amount of assets with a total balance of 2.6 trillion euros.
Read on to find out the characteristics of Top 5 banks in Europe by total assets.
HSBC is a British multinational bank. It provides high-quality financial services in more than 60 countries. HSBC Holdings PLC, if we refer to the bank by its full official name, provides a wide range of services, including commercial and investment banking, and effective asset management.
HSBC was founded in Hong Kong in 1865 by a Scottish man called Thomas Sutherland. Back in those times, the bank played a vital role in promoting trade between Europe and Asia and soon became one of the world’s largest banks. In the early 20th century, the banking structure expanded its operations to Europe and North America. In the 1960s and 1970s, HSBC became one of the first banks that offered e-banking services.
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Today HSBC is well-known for its global presence (75 countries and territories) and experience in the field of international banking, with shares listed in London, Hong Kong, New York, Paris, and Bermuda stock exchanges. This is a major player in the Asian market, but its operations in Europe, America, and in the Middle East are considerable as well. HSBC is striving for sustainable development: it has become a leader in the field of green financing by investing in renewable sources of energy and supporting sustainable business practices.
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2. BNP Paribas
The second largest bank in Europe is BNP Paribas, a French multinational bank institution with the total assets reaching about 2.5 trillion euros as of the end of 2022. BNP Paribas is one of the world’s largest banks, and it conducts operations in 72 countries. The bank has a special focus on retail banking services, corporate and investment banking.
BNP Paribas was formed in 2000 by merging the Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) and Paribas. BNP itself was founded in 1966 and mainly dealt with retail banking services in Europe. Paribas, the second “part”, was established just a few years later – in 1872, and it initially concentrated on banking investments. Today, BNP Paribas is a leader in Europe’s market that has a strong presence in France, Italy and Belgium, in North Africa, and in the Middle East.
BNP Paribas is striving for sustainable financing. The structure has invested heavily into renewable sources of energy and other environmentally friendly projects. The bank has also become a leader in the field of social financing in Europe by investing in projects that benefit communities and contribute to social integration.
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3. Crédit Agricole Group
The third largest bank in Europe as of the start of 2023 is Crédit Agricole Group, a French multinational bank with assets totaling around 2.35 trillion euros. Crédit Agricole is a cooperative banking institution owned by its customers that works in the decentralized network of regional banks in Europe and beyond. The bank provides a number of financial services, including retail and corporate banking, as well as asset management.
Crédit Agricole was founded in 1894 as a cooperative bank that provided financial services to farmers in French agricultural areas. Today the institution has turned into one of the world’s largest banks that operated in over 50 countries. Crédit Agricole occupies leading positions in the field of sustainable financing and it made considerable investments in renewable sources of energy, green bonds, and other projects that do not harm the environment.
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4. Barclays PLC
Barclays PLC is a multinational company headquartered in London that provides banking and financial services. This is one of the world’s largest banks with operations conducted in more than 40 countries that has the staff of about 83,500 employees. The total assets of Barclays PLC as of the end of 2022 made up 1.65 trillion euros.
Barclays offers a number of financial products and services, including:
- Banking services for individuals and legal entities
- Investment banking services
- Asset management
The company is also present in the digital banking sphere via its Barclays Digital Banking branch.
Barclays was set up in 1690, and it has undergone a lot of mergers and acquisitions. The company has been facing a lot of controversy in recent years, including accusations of currency exchange rate manipulation and involvement in the Libor scandal. However, the bank has taken steps to solve these problems and improve its reputation in Europe and beyond.
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5. Banco Santander
The fifth largest bank in Europe is Banco Santander, a Spanish multinational banking institution with the assets reaching about 1.6 trillion euros as of the end of 2022. Banco Santander is active in 10 major markets, including the UK, Spain and Brazil, and it provides a number of standard financial services.
Banco Santander was founded in 1857 in a Spanish town of Santander where it was initially focused on providing commercial banking services to the local community. Today the bank has expanded its operations all over the world and is currently a large player in Europe’s market. In addition, Banco Santander has a substantial presence in Latin America, being one of the largest banks in the region.
Just like the four financial players mentioned before, the bank is striving for sustainable development. It also invested considerable funds in renewable sources of energy and other environmentally friendly products. The management is also aimed at promoting affordability, and it develops programs that help people with a low income in and outside Europe to access the financial services they need.
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Challenges Faced by the Largest Banks in Europe in 2023
The five largest banks in Europe are under new pressure at present: they are required to stop financing the fossil fuel industry (oil, natural gas, and coal production) as part of the campaign organized by the investors that control 1.5 trillion dollars.
Barclays, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, and Société Generale are facing fierce criticism for their investments in fossil fuel.
According to the study published by ShareAction, these banks were the largest institutions in Europe that granted loans to the leading oil and gas companies after HSBC in the period from 2016 to 2021.
The group of institutional investors have now sent letters to each of them with an appeal to stop direct financing of new oil and gas deposits by the end of the current year. The letters have been written by a group of 30 investors coordinated by ShareAction that comprises Candriam, La Française Asset Management, and Brunel Pension Partnership.
Investors resumed pressure on the banks operating in Europe following the announcement made by NatWest bank (Scotland) on February 9. It declared its intention to stop granting reserve-based loans for the new customers that finance oil and gas exploration and production, though financing will continue for the existing customers over the next three years.
In their letter, investors express their concern that new oil and gas fields may threaten the global way of receiving profit with zero СО2 emissions and will run counter to the banks’ own goals.
A similar campaign was organized against HSBC. As a result, the largest bank in Europe and its main sponsor of the leading oil and gas companies declared in December 2022 that they would no longer directly finance new oil and gas deposits after months of ongoing pressure on the part of active shareholders coordinated by ShareAction.
In their latest letter, the investors have warned Barclays, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, and Société Generale that their activity was deterring the revolution in the field in renewable energy sources in Europe.
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Banks of Europe Reached Parity with Wall Street by Bonds Trading Volumes
This is the fifth quarter on end that the Banks of Europe have equaled their Wall Street competitors by trading in bonds and thus increased their income by almost 30%.
The six leading investment banks in Europe, especially Barclays Plc and Deutsche Bank AG, are estimated to have shown an average growth of operations with bonds and currency by 29% in the last quarter of 2022. This indicator is a little higher than the income pool in US banks, according to Bloomberg analysts.
The average values do not include Credit Suisse Group AG, however: the bank is expected to show a considerable decrease in proceeds from trading operations as it is winding down its business as part of a wider reorganization.
The largest banks in Europe see benefits from quick interest rate increase by the central banks in their anti-inflation efforts that cover trading in bonds and traditional savings and loans business. Traders from Europe with a fixed income should have received a respite or even attain a turning point in 2022 after several years of giving up the market share to larger American competitors.
Europe is home to the world’s largest and best-known banks that play an important role in the global financial system. These banks work in many countries and provide a number of financial products and services to individuals, corporations, and governments. Despite the fact that each bank has its own unique history, operations and influence, they are all committed to the principles of sustainable development, affordability of financial services, and responsible banking practices. As the financial industry continues developing, these banks will surely play a central role in forming the future of the world economy.
The ranking of the largest banks in Europe helps potential customers find the structure where they would like to receive banking services.
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