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20 Largest Banks in the World by Total Assets

Industrial & Construction Bank of China. China Construction Bank. Agricultural Bank of China. Bank of … China.

These four banks all have something in common, and it’s not what you think. They’re the four largest banks in the world by asset size.

Unless you’re familiar with China’s financial system, you probably haven’t heard of any of them. But you’ve certainly heard of some of the other huge global banks on this list, like JPMorgan Chase Bank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citibank. 

These large U.S.-based banks hold their own against competitors based in China, Japan, France, and Spain. See where they fit on our list of the top 20 biggest banks in the world.

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20 Largest Banks in the World by Total Assets

These are the 20 biggest banks in the world right now. Each listing includes the bank’s size by consolidated assets, along with some additional notable details:

  • Headquarters. This is usually the location of the bank’s official registered office, or that of the bank’s parent company if applicable. Some U.S.-based banks have two headquarters, one for their official registration office (known as a charter office in the U.S.) and one where executive leadership works. Executive offices tend to be in major financial centers like New York City, while charter locations tend to be in places with favorable regulatory environments, like South Dakota. 
  • Founding Date. Many of the banks on this list have predecessor organizations dating back to the 1700s or even earlier, but most got as big as they are by merging many times with other banks. These mergers often dramatically restructure the organization such that it’s a functionally new bank, which is why you see many founding dates in the 1990s and 2000s here. 
  • Current CEO. This is the current chief executive(s) responsible for day-to-day leadership. Especially in China and Japan, the chief executive is often also the chair of the bank’s board of directors and may not even have a formal “CEO” or “President” title.

What is Industrial & Commercial Bank of China total asset value?$5.10 trillion
Where is Industrial & Commercial Bank of China headquartered?Beijing, China
When was Industrial & Commercial Bank of China founded?1984
Who is the CEO of Industrial & Commercial Bank of China?Yi Huiman & Gu Shu (co-presidents)

Like your local neighborhood trust fund baby, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBoC) was born on third base. 

It came into being in the mid-1980s, when the People’s Bank of China split in two. ICBoC was the quasi-commercial offshoot, built to finance China’s rapidly-growing state-controlled enterprises. What remained of the People’s Bank of China became the country’s central bank, similar to the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Though still controlled by the Chinese state, ICBoC was one of the only commercial banks for a long time, which gave it a head start on growth as the country’s economy liberalized. Today, it’s the biggest bank in the world by some distance.

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What is China Construction Bank’s total asset value?$4.31 trillion
Where is China Construction Bank headquartered?Beijing, China
When was China Construction Bank founded?1954
Who is the CEO of China Construction Bank?Liu Guiping

China Construction Bank is another huge state-controlled Chinese bank that’s vital to the country’s commercial economy. Founded in the 1950s, it grew alongside China’s once-sleepy private property market, if occasionally hampered by allegations of corruption and self-dealing.

Today, China Construction Bank remains under the thumb of the Chinese state, but it was briefly part-owned by Bank of America and does business across Southeast Asia and Europe. It has a small foothold in the United States as well but isn’t a major economic player here.

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What is Agricultural Bank of China’s total asset value?$4.16 trillion
Where is Agricultural Bank of China headquartered?Beijing, China
When was Agricultural Bank of China founded?1979
Who is the CEO of Agricultural Bank of China?Fu Wanjun

China Agricultural Bank, or “AgBank” as it’s known in the industry, is another state-controlled financial institution vital to China’s economy. 

Its backstory is strange even by the standards of the Chinese financial system. Various institutions known as “China Agricultural Bank” or “Agricultural Bank of China” have existed since the 1940s. All but the “current” AgBank, which dates to 1979, have since been abolished.

Today, AgBank is much more than a sleepy farmers’ bank. It went public in 2010 in what was then the world’s biggest IPO, printing millions of dollars in fees for U.S.-based backers like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. It has offices in dozens of countries and more than 20,000 retail branches.

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What is Bank of China’s total asset value?$3.74 trillion
Where is Bank of China headquartered?Beijing, China
When was Bank of China founded?1912
Who is the CEO of Bank of China?Gao Yingxin

Bank of China traces its roots back to the Republic of China, which replaced the Qing dynasty in 1912 and remained in power until the current communist regime took over in 1949. (The Republic of China persists on the island of Taiwan, which mainland China claims as its own.)

For most of its history, the Bank of China acted as a quasi-central bank and controlled the country’s printed money supply. Though that role ended in 1942, the bank continued to exist and in fact grew through the early communist period, despite tight controls on private lending and property ownership.

Today, the Bank of China focuses more on commercial lending and foreign exchange than the other “big four” Chinese banks. Still, it’s the second-largest lender in the country and just as systemically important as the other three.

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What is JPMorgan Chase Bank’s total asset value?$3.31 trillion
Where is JPMorgan Chase Bank headquartered?Columbus, Ohio & New York, New York
When was JPMorgan Chase Bank founded?2000
Who is the CEO of JPMorgan Chase Bank?Jamie Dimon

JPMorgan Chase & Co. takes its name from late-19th century financier J.P. Morgan, who was once so wealthy and powerful he offered to bail the U.S. government out of a financial crisis. But he didn’t found the bank’s core predecessor institution. That happened in 1799, decades before Morgan’s birth. 

That predecessor, a proto-conglomerate known as the Manhattan Company, grew over the years into a diversified financial institution called The Chase Manhattan Company, then finally merged with JPMorgan & Co. in 2000 to create the modern entity everyone knows as Chase Bank.

Chase did well over the next 20 years. It grew substantially during the Great Financial Crisis, largely at the expense of bankrupt giants like Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns, and helped save the U.S. auto industry by facilitating General Motors’ $23 billion IPO in 2010. Today, Chase is a household name with nearly 5,000 branches, a slew of cash-back and travel rewards credit cards, and massive consumer and small-business lending departments.

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What is BNP Paribas’ total asset value?$3.05 trillion
Where is BNP Paribas headquartered?Paris, France
When was BNP Paribas founded?1822
Who is the CEO of BNP Paribas?Jean-Laurent Bonnafe

BNP Paribas traces its history back to 1848, when a series of democratic revolutions rocked a still-aristocratic Europe. Its first predecessor institution, Comptoir national d’escompte de Paris (CNEP), formed from the ashes of the French financial system and quickly grew into one of the continent’s biggest banks.

CNEP grew steadily by acquisition until World War I, which devastated Europe’s economy. But the bank survived that shock and an even bigger hit from World War II. With a caveat: France’s postwar government nationalized CNEP and three other big French banks, turning them into state-run enterprises. They remained so until “re-privatization” in 1993, by which point CNEP was known as Banque Nationale de Paris.

BNP Paribas’ other predecessor, Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas, followed a similar trajectory of growth by acquisition, nationalization, and privatization. The pair merged in 2000 to form Europe’s biggest bank. Despite a massive fine over U.S. sanctions violations in 2014, BNP Paribas remains dominant today.

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What is Credit Agricole’s total asset value?$2.41 trillion
Where is Credit Agricole headquartered?Montrouge, France
When was Credit Agricole founded?1894
Who is the CEO of Credit Agricole?Philippe Brassac

Credit Agricole arose to serve frustrated French farmers and small agricultural businesses, who for decades in the 19th century struggled to find reliable credit. Key changes to French law in the 1880s allowed for the development of mutual banks — essentially, groups of people pooling their money together to lend to others — and Credit Agricole was among the first beneficiaries.

The idea had legs, and Credit Agricole soon expanded into a network of retail banks throughout the French countryside. By 1900, it looked more like a traditional bank than a farmer-run financial collective, with an increasingly diverse menu of financial products and services. It was instrumental in the country’s rebuilding following the two world wars.

Credit Agricole began expanding overseas in the 1970s, with branches in major financial centers like Chicago, and diversified into insurance in the 1990s. Today, it has operations across Europe and in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and North America.

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What is Bank of America’s total asset value?$2.41 trillion
Where is Bank of America headquartered?Charlotte, North Carolina
When was Bank of America founded?1998
Who is the CEO of Bank of America?Brian Moynihan

In an ironic twist, Bank of America arose from a San Francisco-based bank called Bank of Italy, which primarily served Italian immigrants shut out of the city’s mainstream financial institutions. A 1922 merger formed the Bank of America and Italy, which quickly grew into a regional powerhouse.

At some point, Bank of America and Italy changed its name to BankAmerica. Charlotte-based NationsBank bought the company in 1998 — the largest U.S. bank merger to date — and changed the name to Bank of America, at that point a fair depiction of the institution’s reach.

Like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America got bigger and stronger during the Great Financial Crisis, thanks in large part to its acquisition of distressed housing lender Countrywide Financial and investment services firm Merrill Lynch. Today, it’s among the biggest and best-known investment brokerages and credit card issuers on the continent.

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What is China Development Bank’s total asset value?$2.37 trillion
Where is China Development Bank headquartered?Beijing, China
When was China Development Bank founded?1994
Who is the CEO of China Development Bank?Zhao Huan

Unlike the “big four” Chinese banks, which are state-controlled but publicly traded and at least partly commercial in nature, China Development Bank is basically a financial extension of the Chinese government. Its primary purpose is to finance major infrastructure projects in China, such as hydroelectric dams, international airports, and railways.

China Development Bank came into being in 1994, as the Chinese government began a long infrastructure modernization campaign. Today, it’s the second-largest issuer of yuan-denominated bonds in the country after the Ministry of Finance and serves as a critical lender of last resort for public works projects that local and regional banks can’t or won’t finance.

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What is MUFG Bank’s total asset value?$2.35 trillion
Where is MUFG Bank headquartered?Tokyo, Japan
When was MUFG Bank founded?2006
Who is the CEO of MUFG Bank?Hanzawa Junichi

MUFG Bank formed from the merger of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi (the “M”) and UFJ Bank (the “UF”) in 2006. (The “G” stands for “Group.”)

Its origins date back to the late 1800s, however. Like fellow big banks in the United States and China, both predecessor institutions benefited from a rapidly growing and diversifying Japanese economy during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Unlike its Chinese counterparts, MUFG has not been shy of overseas expansion, perhaps on account of its much smaller home market. Both Mitsubishi and UFJ Bank had West Coast-based U.S. subsidiaries when they merged — Union Bank and Bank of California, respectively. Those entities merged when their parents merged, and Union Bank is today one of the larger regional banks in the United States.

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What is Japan Post Bank’s total asset value?$2.02 trillion
Where is Japan Post Bank headquartered?Tokyo, Japan
When was Japan Post Bank founded?2006
Who is the CEO of Japan Post Bank?Hiroya Masuda

Japan Post Bank came into existence in 1875, when the founder of Japan’s modern postal service implemented his idea for a simple postal savings service. Drawing on a similar concept in the United Kingdom, the idea quickly grew into a more diversified financial services corporation that provided loans and issued bonds as the country’s economy expanded.

The modern Japanese postal banking system — and Japan Post Bank — really took off after World War II, when the postwar government put significant resources toward modernizing and revitalizing the country’s postal and banking services.

The Japanese government remained in full control of the enterprise until 2007. Since then, it has been slowly unwinding its stake, though full privatization remains years off. As of 2019, the government still had a 57% share of Japan Post Bank’s parent company.

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What is SMBC’s total asset value?$1.91 trillion
Where is SMBC headquartered?Tokyo, Japan
When was SMBC founded?2001
Who is the CEO of SMBC?Makoto Takashima

SMBC Bank grew out of the merger of two major predecessor institutions: The Sumitomo Bank and Sakura Bank. Both trace their roots back to the 19th century, and both grew through a succession of mergers during the 20th century.

They merged in 2001 to form the second-largest bank in Japan, then continued to grow through acquisition as foreign companies like General Electric and Citigroup reduced their operations in Asia. Today, SMBC has operations throughout Asia and in parts of Europe. It’s a minority owner of Barclays Bank, among other Western financial institutions that do business in the United States.

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What is Banco Santander’s total asset value?$1.85 trillion
Where is Banco Santander headquartered?Boadilla del Monte, Spain
When was Banco Santander founded?1857
Who is the CEO of Banco Santander?José Antonio Alvarez

Banco Santander started out in 1857 as a regional bank based in Santander, a smallish city in northern Spain. It slowly expanded into surrounding territories both organically and by acquisition before going on a buying spree in the 1990s and early 2000s. Major pickups during this period included Banco Central Hispano, Grupo Financiero InverMexico, Grupo Financiero Serfin, and ABN AMRO.

It wasn’t done. Banco Santander bought parts or wholes of multiple distressed U.K. banks during the Great Financial Crisis, including HSBC’s auto lending arm. In the 2010s, acquisitions included El Corte Inglés (a major consumer finance institution in Spain) and Banco Popular Español.

Today, Banco Santander is by far the largest bank based in Spain and one of the most recognizable consumer finance brands in the world. If you live in the northeastern United States, you probably live within driving distance of at least one retail branch.

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What is Mizuho Bank’s total asset value?$1.80 trillion
Where is Mizuho Bank headquartered?Tokyo, Japan
When was Mizuho Bank founded?2002
Who is the CEO of Mizuho Bank?Koji Fujiwara

Confusingly known as MHFG — uncomfortably close to “MUFG” — Mizuho is the smallest of the three Japanese megabanks. But it’s no slouch. 

Like its compatriots, it arose from the merger of multiple banks that can trace their lineages back to the 19th century. In Mizuho’s case, there were three: Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Fuji Bank, and the Industrial Bank of Japan. The group merged in 2000 to form the bank’s modern structure — then quickly got into trouble selling bad U.S. housing debt in the run-up to the Great Financial Crisis. 

Mizuho survived, but it had the distinction of being the Asian bank hit hardest in the crisis. (The region escaped the worse of the calamity because its financial institutions largely steered clear of U.S. debt markets.) Undaunted, it continued growing by acquisition, with a notable foray into Brazil (via its acquisition of Banco WestLB do Brasil) in the early 2010s.

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What is Societe Generale’s total asset value?$1.79 trillion
Where is Societe Generale headquartered?Paris, France
When was Societe Generale founded?1864
Who is the CEO of Societe Generale?Frederic Oudea

Unlike many of the banks on this list, Societe Generale has had the same name for its entire 160-year history. At least, informally: Its founding moniker was “Société Générale pour favoriser le développement du commerce et de l’industrie en France,” a real mouthful.

Societe Generale has been critical to France’s economy almost as long as it has existed. This is due in part to its quasi-aristocratic origins — unlike farm-focused Credit Agricole, its founders were seasoned bankers and industrialists. They had strong connections with the French state and benefited from favorable treatment over the years.

Like other big French banks, Societe Generale fell under state control after World War II and was subsequently re-privatized later in the 20th century. Today, following a relentless expansion through central and eastern Europe after the Iron Curtain fell, Societe Generale is among the most visible and systemically important banks on the continent.

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What is Groupe BPCE’s total asset value?$1.77 trillion
Where is Groupe BPCE headquartered?Paris, France
When was Groupe BPCE founded?2009
Who is the CEO of Groupe BPCE?Laurent Mignon

Groupe BPCE formed in 2009, when Groupe Caisse d’Épargne and Groupe Banque Populaire merged in the depths of the financial crisis. Though it’s “only” the fourth-largest bank in France and seventh-largest in Europe by assets, it’s currently the biggest bank on the continent by revenue.

That’s due in large part to Groupe BPCE’s retail focus. It has more than 8,000 branches in the European Union and lively consumer and small-business lending arms — a veritable cash machine for the bank’s shareholders. Like Credit Agricole, it’s a cooperative financial institution, a legacy of Groupe Caisse d’Épargne’s preexisting structure.

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What is Postal Savings Bank of China’s total asset value?$1.74 trillion
Where is Postal Savings Bank of China headquartered?Beijing, China
When was Postal Savings Bank of China founded?2007
Who is the CEO of Postal Savings Bank of China?Xinshuang Guo

Postal Savings Bank of China is a newcomer to the sleepy postal banking circuit. Founded only in 2007 and modeled on similarly successful institutions in Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom, it has grown into a behemoth almost overnight. About 40,000 Postal Savings Bank branches now serve the vast majority of China’s population.

Postal Savings Bank of China got a big boost in the late 2000s, when the Chinese government used it to distribute stimulus funds and microloans to the country’s rural poor. A public listing soon followed, supported by some notable Western financial institutions: UBS, Morgan Stanley, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

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What is Citibank’s total asset value?$1.71 trillion
Where is Citibank headquartered?Sioux Falls, South Dakota & New York, New York
When was Citibank founded?1812
Who is the CEO of Citibank?Jane Fraser

Citibank’s predecessor institution didn’t literally fight in the War of 1812, but City Bank (as it was then known) did lend the Federal government the then-enormous sum of $700,000 in the wake of the devastating conflict. Those funds helped rebuild warn-torn Washington, D.C., and repair a Federal budget that might otherwise have precipitated a crippling default.

Perhaps it’s no accident that City Bank enjoyed the favor of state and Federal departments in the decades that followed. It profited immensely from massive infrastructure projects that helped build the modern U.S. economy, from transatlantic communications cables to urban electrification campaigns.

Eventually, Citibank turned its sights abroad, expanding overseas in a way few major U.S.-based banks have before or since. Today, it’s a major investment and commercial banking powerhouse serving a largely upscale clientele — though its generous bank account promotions for new accountholders are worth checking out no matter how much you have on hand. Notably, Citibank is the only bank on this list currently led by a woman.

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What is Wells Fargo’s total asset value?$1.71 trillion
Where is Wells Fargo headquartered?Sioux Falls, South Dakota & San Francisco, California
When was Wells Fargo founded?1852
Who is the CEO of Wells Fargo?Charles Scharf

Wells Fargo got its start in through-and-tumble American West during the 1850s. It quickly built a name for itself as a reliable lender and financial partner for frontier businesspeople and families and did more than any other private bank to build San Francisco (and then rebuild it following a devastating 1906 earthquake and fire).

Wells Fargo made its influence felt outside its home city as the 20th century wore on. It was a major war bond financier during World War II, contributing mightily to the Allies’ efforts. After the war, it profited handsomely from a 1950s housing boom driven by veterans seeking more space for their growing families.

Wells Fargo remains a financial powerhouse today, but it’s also the most controversial of the big four U.S. banks. Wells Fargo has repeatedly faced (and settled) allegations of discriminatory lending practices, first in 2012 and then again in the early 2020s. The bank has also paid more than $3 billion toward settlements in civil and criminal cases related to a years-long scheme to open fake bank accounts without customers’ knowledge.

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What is Bank of Communications’ total asset value?$1.64 trillion
Where is Bank of Communications headquartered?Shanghai, China
When was Bank of Communications founded?1908
Who is the CEO of Bank of Communications?Peng Chun

Given the literalness of other major Chinese Bank names — China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China — you might think “Bank of Communications” was the designated funder for China’s telecommunications infrastructure.

You’d be wrong. “Communications” somehow refers to rail infrastructure, which makes more sense when you learn that the Qing Dynasty founded Bank of Communications to help purchase a critically important Beijing port railway from its foreign owners.

That was in 1908. In the century-plus since, Bank of Communications has grown into a major commercial bank with nearly 3,000 branches in 80 Chinese cities and several global financial centers, including New York and Tokyo.

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Where Did We Get This Data?

We got the data and information for this list from a variety of sources:

  • Asset Data for Banks Based Outside the United States: For non-U.S. banks, we used the LexisNexis Bankers Almanac Counterparty KYC lookup tool, which includes asset and balance sheet information presented here.
  • Asset Data for Banks Based in the United States: For U.S.-based banks, we used the Federal Reserve’s Large Commercial Banks database, which includes asset and balance sheet information for the more than 2,000 American banks with $300 million or more in consolidated assets.
  • Other Public Information Sources: For details like headquarters location, founding date, and current leadership, we used a variety of other publicly available information sources. Virtually all the banks on this list are either publicly traded or state-controlled, which means they’re obligated to release certain information to the public.

Final Word

The biggest banks in the world are vital to the continued functioning of the global economy. As we saw during the Great Financial Crisis of the late 2000s, even a hint of trouble at major financial institutions can have far-reaching consequences for markets and wallets. 

Which isn’t to say that banks not on this list are unimportant. Thousands of community banks and credit unions in the United States have $300 million or more in consolidated assets, the minimum amount at which the Federal Reserve bothers tracking their size. Collectively, they control more wealth than the country’s “big four” institutions.

The story is much the same around the world. For every massive bank on this list, there are dozens more toiling in relative obscurity to serve consumers, small businesses, and big corporations alike. Don’t sleep on them, wherever you happen to live or work.

Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.