Tuesday 24 October 2017

Qatar National unlocks right combination to become world's safest bank

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

SO where do you go if you want to really make sure your nest egg is safe at the bank?

Switzerland? Possibly. Luxembourg? Maybe.

But if you're fretting about whether your bank may be built on shaky foundations, then it's time to head for Qatar. Among the world's top 20 banks, the Qatar National Bank is reckoned to be the safest, according to news agency Bloomberg.

With a Tier 1 capital ratio of 21pc, the Qatar National Bank is significantly ahead of its closest rival, Singapore-based Oversea-Chinese Banking, which muscles in with a 16.6pc ratio.

The Tier 1 capital ratio is a standard measure of a financial institution's strength. It's derived from examining its total equity capital, and sometimes preference shares, and disclosed reserves versus its total risk-weighted assets.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is about to undertake a stress test of 128 banks across the eurozone. Five banks in Ireland will be analysed – Bank of Ireland, AIB, Ulster Bank, Permanent TSB and Merrill Lynch International.

The ECB has set a minimum target of 8pc core Tier 1 capital and that's just a bit below the 10.5pc set by the Irish Central Bank's own Prudential Capital Assessment Review (PCAR).

The two pillar banks – Bank of Ireland and AIB – have core Tier 1 ratios of 14.2pc and 15.1pc respectively, but those figures can't be directly compared with the levels that would be derived under the ECB methodology.

Of the Bloomberg list of the world's top 20 safest banks, just one European bank makes it into the top 10 – Switzerland-based Credit Suisse. It has a Tier 1 capital ratio of 18.4pc. Its non-performing assets to total assets ratio is just 0.1, while its deposits to funding ratio is 47.8.

Also notable is that five of the world's safest 20 banks are in Canada, with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Royal Bank of Canada placed at number 4 and 5 respectively. Further down the list, Bank of Nova Scotia comes in at 12, Desjardins Group at number 13 and Toronto-Dominion Bank at 15.

Canada is one of the few western economies that largely escaped the last five years of economic meltdown unscathed.

And where Irish people love to hate their banks (and they have good reason to), Canadians are pretty content with theirs.

Results published just last week of a survey undertaken by the federal Financial Consumer Agency of Canada found that 80pc of respondents were happy with the quality of service they receive at the nation's six biggest banks. It also found 60pc were satisfied with how much they pay in banking fees.

Irish consumers are unlikely to be so appreciative of their banks. The Irish independent revealed yesterday that AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank are all set to introduce or raise charges and fees for day-to-day banking, resulting in families paying an average of €260 a year in fees.

The top 20 global bank ranking has just five banks from Europe, and just three of those are from the European Union: OP Pohjola Group from Finland at number 8, Germany's Bayerische Landesbank at 14, and Svenska Handelsbanken from Sweden at number 16.

The latter was the only Swedish bank to survive the country's banking crisis in the early '90s without having to be bailed out by government.

Maybe in another 20 years there could be an Irish bank on the list.

Irish Independent

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