By Gordon Platt, Thomas Clouse, Jonathan Gregson & Antonio Guerrero
BEST CORPORATE BANK
Deutsche Bank, the largest bank in Germany, is a leading global corporate and investment bank and has long been the top foreign exchange bank worldwide. It was number one in the German equity and debt capital markets, and the leading financial adviser on M&A in Central and Eastern Europe in the first half of this year. With operations in 72 countries, Deutsche Bank has a strong presence in many emerging markets. A new management team took over in June from Josef Ackermann, who led the bank for the past decade. Deutsche Bank is one of more than a dozen banks under investigation for allegedly attempting to manipulate the London interbank offered rate (Libor). The bank is cooperating with the authorities and has said no current or former board member was involved. With its extensive operations in Europe, Deutsche Bank has been affected by the economic slowdown in the region.
—Anshu Jain, co–chief executive
—Jürgen Fitschen, co–chief executive
BEST CONSUMER BANK
London-based HSBC earns nearly two-thirds of its profit from the Asia-Pacific region. First-half earnings of $8.4 billion were down 9% from a year earlier, as the bank set aside $700 million to pay US penalties related to a money-laundering investigation and $1.3 billion toward a regulatory settlement in the UK over the sale of inappropriate financial products.“It is right that we be held accountable, and I apologize for our past shortcomings,” Stuart Gulliver, group chief executive, said. “We now judge senior leaders [at the bank] not just on what they achieve, but also on how they achieve it.” HSBC is now run and managed as a genuinely global firm, Gulliver said. It is facing regulatory uncertainty with the introduction of the Prudential Regulatory Authority in the UK, and from the potential formation of a European Banking Union. HSBC is undergoing a strategic repositioning to focus on the faster-growing regions of Asia and Latin America.
—Stuart Gulliver, group chief executive
BEST PRIVATE BANK
Swiss private bank Julius Baer strengthened its position in global private banking in August with its acquisition from Bank of America of Merrill Lynch’s international wealth-management business outside of the US. Julius Baer is Switzerland’s biggest purely private bank, although UBS and Credit Suisse each manage assets that are four times as large. Julius Baer has been expanding in growth markets in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Latin America at a time when Western European investors are retreating to cash equivalents. In July, Julius Baer and Bank of China entered into a strategic partnership to refer clients to each another and cooperate in marketing and other areas. Last October, Julius Baer formed a partnership with Macquarie Group of Australia, which transferred its Asian private wealth business to the Swiss bank. In the first six months of 2012, Julius Baer attracted $5.6 billion of net new money.
—Boris Collardi, CEO
BEST ISLAMIC FINANCIAL INSTITUTION
Al Baraka Bank
BEST EMERGING MARKETS BANK
Standard Chartered has a large presence in the growth markets of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. “We are very well positioned in dynamic markets with strong fundamentals,” says Peter Sands, group CEO. Last year it was exclusive financial adviser to China Investment Corporation, one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds, on its acquisition of a 25.8% stake in South Africa’s Shanduka Group, a black-owned investment holding company. Standard Chartered agreed in August to pay a $340 million fine to a New York regulator, the Department of Financial Services, which had threatened to revoke its license for allegedly laundering money for Iran. The bank’s profit for the first half of 2012 rose 9% to $3.95 billion.
—Peter Sands, group CEO
BEST ASSET MANAGER
New York–based BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, with $3.6 trillion of assets under management, has prospered since the financial crisis by advising governments and central banks, as well as companies, on how to manage their risks. “While we remain cautious around the prospects for the global economy, we are confident that the model we have built will continue to serve our clients and shareholders and deliver attractive long-term returns,” says Laurence Fink, chairman and CEO. BlackRock repurchased $1 billion of its shares from Barclays Bank in the second quarter.
—Laurence Fink, chairman and CEO
BEST CUSTODY BANK
BNY Mellon is the world’s biggest custody bank, with $27.1 trillion in assets under custody and administration. The bank’s second-quarter earnings fell 37% from the same period a year earlier. BNY Mellon settled a lawsuit with investors that accused it of imprudently investing their funds under a securities lending program in the debt of Sigma Finance, which collapsed in 2008. “We were able to put significant litigation behind us with no material impact on our capital,” Gerald Hassell, chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement. “Our strengthened capital positions us as a preferred counterparty.” The bank formed a new division in June that will include a global collateral management technology platform that can process derivatives, tri-party repurchase agreements, portfolio swaps and collateralized loans, as well as manage margin in multiple currencies.
—Gerald Hassell, chairman, president and CEO
BEST INVESTMENT BANK
Goldman Sachs beat analysts’ expectations in the second quarter with earnings of $962 million, a decline of 11% from the same period a year earlier. The firm gained market share in 2011 by devising creative solutions in raising capital across asset classes and industries, according to Fred Cannon at research firm KBW. No other investment bank came close to beating Goldman in M&A last year, when it advised clients on 381 deals. In public equity markets, the bank raised more than $54 billion for its clients in 2011.
—Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO
BEST CASH MANAGEMENT BANK
BEST TRADE FINANCE BANK
Citi’s trade finance business set records across the board last year. John Ahearn, managing director and global head of trade, notes: “Issues in Europe, including sovereign debt concerns and lack of dollar liquidity, allowed us to take advantage of our capabilities and the fact that we are a US bank with plenty of dollars.” As European banks deleverage, they are withdrawing from the commodity finance business, and, as a result of liquidity constraints, those that remain in the business are raising prices, he says. Citi provides trade finance services in 86 countries and boasts a global network that enables it to cash in on globalization and shifting trade flows.
—John Ahearn, managing director and global head of trade
BEST FOREIGN EXCHANGE BANK
Deutsche Bank has stayed on top of the FX world year after year. It has the biggest, most diversified and most profitable foreign exchange operation of any bank. It achieved several world firsts last year. Deutsche Bank was first in the offshore renminbi market for both electronic trading and currency options and swap orders. And it was first to clear nondeliverable forwards in Asia and first to offer a full-service overlay hedging product, dbOverlay, which allows asset managers and corporations to significantly reduce the time and cost of hedging FX risk.
—Zar Amrolia, global head of foreign exchange
BEST SUBCUSTODY BANK
Citi Transaction Services has the largest proprietary custody network in the world, covering 61 markets and 98.5% of global market capitalization. Lee Waite, global head of direct custody and clearing, notes: “Every one of our major clients is asking us to help them to become more efficient. We are moving further up the value chain into the back offices and the middle offices of our clients.” He adds that clients are concerned with contingency planning and managing all types of risk. With masses of new regulation on the horizon, one key concern of custodians is the EU’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive.
—Lee Waite, global head of direct custody and clearing