Open Access Articles- Top Results for Big Four (banking)

Big Four (banking)

The Big Four is the colloquial name for the four main banks in several countries, where the banking industry is dominated by just four institutions and where the phrase has gained currency.

International Use

Internationally, the term "Big Four Banks" has traditionally referred to the following central banks:[1][2]

Recently, however, many analysts have argued that the

has begun to rival the Bank of England in terms of influence.[1]

Australia/New Zealand

In Australia, the "big four banks" refers to the four largest banks[3] by market share, who between them hold 80% of the home loan markets in the country. In 2012, their combined total asset is A$2.66 trillion, which is about 200% of Australian GDP in 2011. In order of size, these are:

A longstanding policy of the federal government in Australia has been to maintain this status quo, called the "four pillars policy". The policy has been maintained through the Global Recession of 2008–09, as Westpac acquired St.George Bank and the Commonwealth Bank acquired Bankwest, reinforcing the special status of the "big four".

Being New Zealand's closest neighbour, with very close ties culturally and economically, has helped Australia dominate the banking sector there. Often referred to collectively as the 'big banks'[4][5][6] or the 'big Aussie banks', the "Big Four" Australian banks also dominate the New Zealand banking sector in the form of:

Together they hold over 90% of gross loans and advances in New Zealand [7] as well as close to 90% of all mortgages.[8]

These four subsidiaries are massively profitable and in some cases even outperform the Australian parent company.[9] The extent to which they dominate the banking sector can be seen in profits: In the 2012/2013 financial year, the largest of the Big Banks, ANZ New Zealand, made a profit of NZ$1.37 billion. The smallest, BNZ, made a profit of NZ$695 million.[4] State-owned Kiwibank, community trust-owned TSB Bank, SBS Bank (formerly Southland Building Society) and Heartland Bank, the next four largest banks by profit, made NZ$97 million,[10] NZ$73.5 million,[11] NZ$14 million[12] and NZ$7 million (albeit with an underlying result of about NZ$30 million) respectively.[13] In other words, the profit of New Zealand's next four largest banks (after the Big Four) is equal to less than 30% of the smallest of the Big Four, BNZ.


During the 1920s, the term “Big Four” applied to the Four Northern Banks of the Republic of China (i.e. the four most capitalized commercial banks in Northern China).[14] These were the Yien Yieh Commercial Bank, the Kincheng Banking Corporation, the Continental Bank and The China & South Sea Bank. These were contrasted with the Three Southern Banks of Southern China.

By 1949, the Big Four banks were the Bank of China, the Bank of Communications, the Central Bank of China and the Farmers Bank of China. All four were state-owned banks. These four, together with Central Trust of China, Postal Savings and Remittance Bureau of China, Central Cooperative Treasury of China, were called the "Four Banks, Two Bureaus, One Treasury" or "四行两局一库".[15]

Currently, in the People's Republic of China, the Big Four commercial banks ("四大商业银行") are:

and have been described as such in the western press. All four are state-controlled banks with commercial banking operations.


In India, the "big four" consists of


In Ireland, the term "big four" applies to the four largest banks by market capitalisation.[16][17] These all operate in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and have a wider international presence.[18]

Ever since Danske Bank has phased out its personal banking services, it has been suggested that either KBC Ireland or Permanent TSB could replace, in the medium-term, Danske Bank in the "Big Four" ranking.


In Japan, the "big four" are:[21]

South Africa

In South Africa, the "big four" are:[22]


In Spain, the "big four" are:[23]


In Sweden, the "big four" are:[24]

United Kingdom

In relation to the United Kingdom, the phrase "big four banks" is currently used to refer to the four largest UK-based banking groups, being:

Until 1970, the phrase "big five banks" was used to refer to the five largest UK clearing banks (institutions which clear bankers' cheques), which in England and Wales were:

After the merger of Westminster Bank and National Provincial Bank to form NatWest (now part of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group) in 1970, the term "big four" was used.

In Scotland the "big four" were:

United States

In the United States, the "big four" banks hold 39% of all U.S. customer deposits (as of 2009), and consist of:[28][29]

From a retail banking perspective, U.S. Bancorp (headquarters in Minneapolis, MN/bank charter Cincinnati, OH) and PNC Financial Services (headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA/bank charter Wilmington, DE) both have significantly more branches than Citibank, the retail banking arm of Citigroup.[30] However, Citibank still has significantly more assets than U.S. Bancorp and PNC.[31]



  1. ^ a b Adler, Lee. "The Big Four Central Banks Muddy The Same Sea of Liquidity". Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "Four Stories of Quantitive Easing". Econ Weekly. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  3. ^ "Big four banks lower fixed rates - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)"
  4. ^ a b Parker, Tamsyn. NZ's big banks record $3.5b profit, The New Zealand Herald, November 5, 2013. Accessed April 14, 2014.
  5. ^ Gray, Jamie. NZ's big banks under pressure, The New Zealand Herald, August 5, 2011. Accessed April 14, 2014.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Westpac NZ outperforms Australian parent, The New Zealand Herald, August 16, 2011. Accessed April 14, 2014.
  10. ^ Weir, James. Kiwibank lifts profit as customer base expands
  11. ^ TSB profit rises despite mortgage market competition, Radio New Zealand, May 31, 2013. Accessed April 14, 2014.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Four Northern Banks
  15. ^ Yao Sui: Chinese Finance History, High Education Publisher in 2007, Beijing. (in Chinese: 《中国金融史》,姚遂主编,高等教育出版社,2007年版)
  16. ^ "Anglo Irish Bank Corporation (Executive Summary)". SME Financial. Retrieved 2012-01-17 "...The only banks with higher market capitalisation were Allied Irish Banks (AIB) and Bank of Ireland, both with strong retail and commercial presences. Ulster Bank and National Irish Bank are the other members of the ‘Big Four’ retail and commercial banks, both owned by overseas parents and not listed on the Irish Stock Exchange".  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  17. ^ Hardiman, Cyril (12 February 2005). "'Big Four' Northern banks face probe on pricing and competition claims". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2012-01-22. 
  18. ^ "Cross-Border Personal Banking in Ireland" (PDF). Centre for Cross-Border Studies. Retrieved 2012-01-22. 
  19. ^ Ryan, Susan. AIB's First Trust refunds £350,000 to customers over fee error, Business ETC, November 30, 2011. Accessed April 14, 2014.
  20. ^ "Northern Bank to close four branches". BBC News. 16 January 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  21. ^ "Banks and foreign exchange in SA". Bloomberg. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  22. ^ "Banks and foreign exchange in SA". Brand South Africa. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  23. ^ "Los cuatro grandes, más fuertes que nunca (The big four, stronger than ever) (spanish)". 
  24. ^ Östlund, Carl-Viggo. "Kunderna gisslan hos storbankerna (The customers held hostage by the big banks) (swedish)". 
  25. ^ Kar-Gupta, Sudip. UK banks prepare for inevitable shake-up, Reuters, September 1, 2011. Accessed April 14, 2014.
  26. ^ Kar-Gupta, Sudip. UK to prioritise taxpayers as bank shake-up looms, Reuters, April 10, 2011. Accessed. April 14, 2014.
  27. ^ The Big Four by D Rogers
  28. ^ "Citigroup posts 4th straight loss; Merrill loss widens". USA Today. Associated Press. October 16, 2008. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  29. ^ Temple, James; The Associated Press (November 18, 2008). "Bay Area job losses likely in Citigroup layoffs". The San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 5 December 2009. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  30. ^ Banks Ranked by Number of Branches
  31. ^ Banks Ranked by Total Assets