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Where the World’s Banks Make the Most Money



Where the World's Banks Make the Most Money

Where the World’s Banks Make the Most Money

Profits in banking have been steadily on the rise since the financial crisis.

Just last year, the global banking industry cashed in an impressive $1.36 trillion in after-tax profits ⁠— the highest total in the sector seen in the last 20 years.

What are the drivers behind revenue and profits in the financial services sector, and where do the biggest opportunities exist in the future?

Following the Money

Today’s infographic comes to us from McKinsey & Company, and it leverages proprietary insights from their Panorama database.

Using data stemming from more than 60 countries, we’ve broken down historical banking profits by region, while also visualizing key ratios that help demonstrate why specific countries are more profitable for the industry.

Finally, we’ve also looked at the particular geographic regions that may present the biggest opportunities in the future, and why they are relevant today.

Banking Profits, by Region

Before we look at what’s driving banking profits, let’s start with a breakdown of annual after-tax profits by region over time.

Banking Profit by Year and Region ($B)

United States$19$118$176$263$268$263$291$275$270$403
Western Europe$78$34$21-$70$28$95$154$159$186$198
Rest of World$196$243$265$285$309$327$348$361$387$421
Global ($B)$388$530$635$703$859$963$1,070$1,065$1,144$1,356

In 2018, the United States accounted for $403 billion of after-tax profits in the banking sector ⁠— however, China sits in a very close second place, raking in $333 billion.

What’s Under the Hood?

While there’s no doubt that financial services can be profitable in almost any corner of the globe, what is less obvious is where this profit actually comes from.

The truth is that banking can vary greatly depending on location ⁠— and what drives value for banks in one country may be completely different from what drives value in another.

Let’s look at data and ratios from four very different places to get a sense of how financial services markets can vary.

CountryRARC/GDPLoans Penetration/GDPMargins (RBRC/Total Loans)Risk Cost Margin
United States5.4%121%5.0%0.4%
Global Average5.1%124%5.0%0.8%

1. RARC / GDP (Revenues After Risk Costs / GDP)
This ratio shows compares a country’s banking revenues to overall economic production, giving a sense of how important banking is to the economy. Using this, you can see that banking is far more important to Singapore’s economy than others in the table.

2. Loans Penetration / GDP
Loans penetration can be further broken up into retail loans and wholesale loans. The difference can be immediately seen when looking at data on China and the United States:

CountryRetail LoansWholesale LoansLoan Penetration (Total)
United States73%48%121%

In America, banks make loans primarily to the retail sector. In China, there’s a higher penetration on a wholesale basis — usually loans being made to corporations or other such entities.

3. Margins (Revenues Before Risk Costs / Total Loans)
Margins made on lending is one way for bankers to gauge the potential of a market, and as you can see above, margins in the United States and China are both at (or above) the global average. Meanwhile, for comparison, Finland has margins that are closer to half of the global average.

4. Risk Cost Margin (Risk Cost / Total Loans)
Not surprisingly, China still holds higher risk cost margins than the global average. On the flipside, established markets like Singapore, Finland, and the U.S. all have risk margins below the global average.

Future Opportunities in Banking

While this data is useful at breaking down existing markets, it can also help to give us a sense of future opportunities as well.

Here are some of the geographic markets that have the potential to grow into key financial services markets in the future:

  1. Sub-Saharan Africa
    Despite having 16x the population of South Africa, the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa still generates fewer banking profits. With lower loan penetration rates and RARC/GDP ratios, there is significant potential to be found throughout the continent.
  2. India and Indonesia
    Compared to similar economies in Asia, both India and Indonesia present an interesting banking opportunity because of their high margins and low loan penetration rates.
  3. China
    While China has a high overall loan penetration rate, the retail loan category still holds much potential given the country’s population and growing middle class.

A Changing Landscape in Banking

As banks shift focus to face new market challenges, the next chapter of banking may be even more interesting than the last.

Add in the high stakes around digital transformation, aging populations, and new service opportunities, and the distance between winners and losers could lengthen even more.

Where will the money in banking be in the future?

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3 Reasons Why AI Enthusiasm Differs from the Dot-Com Bubble

Valuations are much lower than they were during the dot-com bubble, but what else sets the current AI enthusiasm apart?



Two bubbles sized according to the forward p/e ratio of the Nasdaq 100 Index during the dot-com bubble (60.1X) and the current AI Enthusiasm (26.4x).



The following content is sponsored by New York Life Investments

3 Reasons Why AI Enthusiasm Differs from the Dot-Com Bubble

Artificial intelligence, like the internet during the dot-com bubble, is getting a lot of attention these days. In the second quarter of 2023, 177 S&P 500 companies mentioned “AI” during their earnings call, nearly triple the five-year average.

Not only that, companies that mentioned “AI” saw their stock price rise 13.3% from December 2022 to September 2023, compared to 1.5% for those that didn’t.

In this graphic from New York Life Investments, we look at current market conditions to find out if AI could be the next dot-com bubble.

Comparing the Dot-Com Bubble to Today

In the late 1990s, frenzied optimism for internet-related stocks led to a rapid rise in valuations and an eventual market crash in the early 2000s. By the time the market hit rock bottom, the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 Index had dropped 82% from its peak.

The growing enthusiasm for AI has some concerned that it could be the next dot-com bubble. But here are three reasons that the current environment is different.

1. Valuations Are Lower

Stock valuations are much lower than they were at the peak of the dot-com bubble. For example, the forward price-to-earnings ratio of the Nasdaq 100 is significantly lower than it was in 2000.

DateForward P/E Ratio
March 200060.1x
November 202326.4x

Source: CNBC, Barron’s

Lower valuations are an indication that investors are putting more emphasis on earnings and stocks are less at risk of being overvalued.

2. Investors Are More Hesitant

During the dot-com bubble, flows to equity funds increased by 76% from 1999 to 2000.

YearCombined ETF and Mutual Fund Flows to Equity Funds

In contrast, equity fund flows have been negative in 2022 and 2023.

YearCombined ETF and Mutual Fund Flows to Equity Funds

Source: Investment Company Institute
*2023 data is from January to September.

Based on fund flows, investors appear hesitant of stocks, rather than overly exuberant.

3. Companies Are More Established

Leading up to the internet bubble, the number of technology IPOs increased substantially.

YearNumber of Technology IPOsMedian Age

Many of these companies were relatively new and, at the peak of the bubble in 2000, only 14% of them were profitable.

In recent years, there have been far fewer tech IPOs as companies wait for more positive market conditions. And those that have gone public, the median age is much higher.

YearNumber of Technology IPOsMedian Age

Ultimately, many of the companies benefitting from AI are established companies that are already publicly traded. New, unproven companies are much less common in public markets.

Navigating Modern Tech Amid Dot-Com Bubble Worries

Valuations, equity flows, and the shortage of tech IPOs all suggest that AI is different than the dot-com bubble.

However, risk is still present in the market. For instance, only 33% of tech companies that went public in 2022 were profitable. Investors can help manage their risk by keeping a diversified portfolio rather than choosing individual stocks.

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Explore more insights from New York Life Investments.

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