Where SA's big banks sit on The Banker's global rankings in 2022

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Standard Bank is ranked 157 in the Top 1000 World Banks rankings for 2022 and has been named the top lender in Africa for more than 20 years.
Standard Bank is ranked 157 in the Top 1000 World Banks rankings for 2022 and has been named the top lender in Africa for more than 20 years.
Gallo Images/Foto24/Brendan Croft
  • Standard Bank is ranked 157 in the Top 1 000 World Banks rankings.
  • The bank has been named the top lender in Africa for more than 20 years in The Banker's Top 1 000 World Banks rankings.
  • But SA's second-biggest lender, FirstRand, gained the most in the main rankings, while Investec ranks the highest on "best performance".


Despite battling recurring outages and a ghost account scandal that has seen it dismiss and suspend dozens of staff members, Standard Bank continues to reign as the biggest bank in Africa.

The Financial Times's The Banker rankings released on Monday show that Standard Bank remained the continent's largest lender in 2022. The rankings are based on banks' Tier 1 capital levels, which measure their capital held in reserves as a primary source of funds to finance loans and other banking services for clients.

Globally, five of the top ten banks in the rankings were all Chinese. China dominated the top four.

But African lenders, in general, proved more resilient, with many posting Tier 1 capital increases ahead of their peers elsewhere.

Out of the 25 largest banks in the continent, 18 gained places in The Banker's Top 1 000 World Banks for 2022. 

But even as more African banks earn a place in the rankings, Standard Bank's position as the biggest lender in the continent remains unshaken, more than 20 years later. It was the only one of SA's Big Four banks to grow its Tier 1 capital in 2020, and in 2021 it posted a marginal increase of 5.1%, keeping it at the 157th position in the overall ranking.

READ | Rising interest rates and the end of lockdown boost Standard Bank's profits

But FirstRand, the second-biggest lender in SA, was the biggest gainer in the main ranking for 2022 among local banks. It rose 30 places after growing its Tier 1 capital by 35.1% last year. Absa is Africa's third-biggest lender, followed by the National Bank of Egypt, which overtook Nedbank, thanks to the 9.7% increase in its Tier 1 capital in 2021.

Investec and Capitec sat in the 11th and 16th positions, respectively, in the continent's rankings. African Bank didn't make it to the top 25 banks that cracked the rankings in Africa. But it was one of the highest movers in the continent, climbing to 961st place globally and 7th place in SA.

When it comes to "best performance", however, Investec is now the leader among SA banks. While it was number 401 in the overall global rankings, the bank, led by Fani Titi, has the best asset quality. Its non-performing loan ratio was only 1.9% in 2021, dropping from 2.6% in 2020. Its cost-to-income ratio improved significantly from 59.61% to 51.83% in 2021. It also had the highest operational efficiency and liquidity scores. It came close to the highest performers on growth and profitability too.

FirstRand, which came second when it comes to the best performance scores, was the leader in growth, profitability, return on risk, soundness and leverage.

Globally, banks' pre-profit profits increased significantly in the past year. Banks had booked billions in impairment charges, and when customers' ability to service their debt didn't deteriorate as expected, lenders released the bulk of their bad debt provisions.

For instance, banks' pre-tax profits in the UK jumped 209%, while impairment charges fell by 114%. A similar trend was observed in the US, Canada, Australia and many other developed markets. 

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