2016 Ranking of the Best UK Banks in the UK
(Top British Banks)
There is a wide variety of banking firms in the UK. This article presents a detailed review of the types of top UK banks below:
- Biggest banks in the UK
- Best UK banks to bank with
Based on the types of services that a UK bank provides, as well as its size and customer satisfaction level, the UK bank might be included in both of the above categories or just one.
For example, Barclays is one of the largest banks in the UK but is not considered a best UK bank due to its many customer service issues and complaints.
On the other hand, TSB Bank is one of the best banks in the UK, based on its high yielding accounts, but it does not fall under the “biggest banks in the UK” category.
List of The Top & Biggest British Banks
For a detailed review of the above top UK banks, including information on their most recent financial situation, growth, complaints, benefits, and history, click here: Detailed Review of The Largest British Banks.
Best UK Banks with Top Interest Paying Accounts
- TSB Bank (up to 5% AER yield)
- Nationwide (up to 5% AER yield)
- Lloyds Bank (up to 4% AER yield)
- Santander (up to 3% AER yield)
For a detailed review of the above best banks in the UK, including information on their high yielding accounts, click here: Best UK Banks with Highest AER Yields.
Don't Miss: High Yield Bank Accounts
Detailed Review – The Biggest UK Banks
The section below presents a list of this year’s five biggest UK banks by total assets. Although headquartered in the UK, the five largest British banks operate on a global scale, with thousands of branches across many countries.
HSBC, for example, is this year’s top largest UK bank, based on total assets, and it serves more than 47 million customers through a network of around 6,000 offices in 71 countries and territories.
Barclays is the 2nd biggest British bank (headquartered in London), and it provides banking services across Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Barclays has operations in over 40 countries and employs approximately 130,000 people.
Biggest UK Banks – Breakdown by Asset Size
Below is the listing of this year's top UK banks by asset size.
Total Assets in Billions*
Royal Bank of Scotland Group
Lloyds Banking Group
Standard Chartered PLC
* Asset size as of last year (see detailed sessions below for balance sheet information)
The statistics table below shows a trending bar chart of the total assets of the top 5 biggest UK banks. The chart shows each British bank’s total assets during the first half of the last couple of years.
Figures are in billions (British pounds – GBP). For the first half of 2014, HSBC had assets worth 1,615 billion worth (1.6 trillion dollars).
Image source: http://www.statista.com/statistics/290594/uk-banks-total-assets/
Detailed Overview of the Top 5 Biggest British Banks
HSBC – Largest Bank in the UK
HSBC is one of the largest banking and financial services firms in the world, and it is also one of the top 5 UK banks.
HSBC was founded in the 1860s primarily to finance trading transactions between Asia (China and India) and the West (Europe).
The inspiration behind HSBC started with a fellow named Thomas Sutherland, a Scot who was working on a temporary contract in Hong Kong for the British Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. Thomas discovered that there was pent-up demand for local banking firms in Hong Kong and on the China coast – banks that could provide similar banking facilities as could be found in London and other European cities.
So, in March of 1865, he worked with other parties to launch HSBC in both Hong Kong and Shanghai.
HSBC's location when the bank was launched
Soon after its formation, the bank’s operations expanded to surrounding regions and then to Europe and the Americas. In the later years of the 20th century and into the 21st century, HSBC moved from a regional-based bank to becoming one of the world's leading financial services institutions.
Today, HSBC is headquartered in London (8 Canada Square, London, E14 5HQ, UK), and the bank is the #1 biggest bank in the UK, with an estimated $2.6 trillion in total assets. It has a customer base of over 50 million people across every major economy in Europe, the Asia-Pacific, the Americas, the Middle East, and Africa.
HSBC operates through long-established subsidiaries, affiliates, businesses, and an international network of around 6,000 offices in 71 countries and territories.
HSBC has four major business lines:
- Commercial banking
- Private banking
- Global banking and markets
- Retail banking and wealth management
Barclays – 2nd Biggest UK Bank
Founded over 320 years ago, Barclays has expanded over the years and now has an extensive global presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia.
During the bank’s 320+ years of history, Barclays has only had two head offices. One of which is located at 54 Lombard Street in London and the other at 1 Churchill Place in Canary Wharf; each are located in one of the UK’s two main financial districts.
Barclays was the first bank in the world to launch through-the-wall ATM machines, at a time when ATMs were a rare novelty. The first of six ATM prototypes was opened at Barclays' Enfield branch in 1967, and many more followed.
Barclays is the second largest bank in the UK, with an estimated total asset size of $2.1 trillion. This top British bank offers four core lines of business:
- Retail banking
- Private/personal banking
- Corporate banking
- Wealth and investment banking
Unfortunately, Barclays is also considered one of the worst UK banks, based on the extremely high level of UK customer complaints it has received over the years.
However, it may seem that there is light at the end of the tunnel for Barclays when it comes to consumer-related issues that have plagued the bank.
A few months ago, the firm’s new chairman (John McFarlane) promised to accelerate the bank’s restructuring and transformation efforts to improve its image, services, and business operating model.
John McFarlane is the former chairman of Aviva, where he engineered a rapid transformation of the insurer after taking charge during the financial crisis.
He is widely known as a hands-on and determined leader and is expected to drive major changes across this top British bank.
Image source: The Guardian
Barclay’s Financial Statements:
Want to read all 30 pages of Barclay’s financial statements? Then click here: Barclay’s Financial Results.
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group – 3rd Top British Bank
Six years ago, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) became the first British bank to announce a full-service online banking platform which allows UK customers to open their personal current accounts entirely online.
RBS is this year’s third biggest British bank that is in the midst of a successful bank optimization transformation. RBS has improved its account opening process, from 5 days to just 1 day. It has also implemented Touch ID technology to make banking on the move even easier.
RBS is committed to becoming a leaner, less volatile business that is based around its core franchises of Personal & Business Banking (PBB) and Commercial & Private Banking (CPB).
RBS provides services to over 33 million customers around the world. This includes 24 million in the UK, where it has over 2,100 bank branches.
The bank has an estimated $1.6 trillion in total assets and aims to be the best UK bank when it comes to service, trust, and advocacy.
At the height of the financial crisis, the UK government stepped in to bail out RBS, putting UK taxpayers in a position where they owned 81.14% of the bank. Over the last couple of years, RBS has successfully managed to pay down most of the taxpayers’ bailout debt.
For its most recent quarter, this highly popular top UK bank has generated over 3 billion pounds in income.
Below is a screenshot of the bank’s most recent financial results.
Lloyds Bank – 4th Largest UK Bank
Based on total asset size, Lloyds is ranked as this year’s fourth top British bank. Lloyds Bank is part of the Lloyds Banking Group, which was formed in 2009 following the acquisition of HBOS by Lloyds TSB Group.
Unfortunately, the acquisition brought over 9 billion pounds (over 14 billion dollars) worth of highly toxic assets to the balance sheet of the combined conglomerates.
At the height of the financial crisis, the high amount of toxic assets led to Lloyds Banking Group’s state of insolvency, causing it to be nationalized by the UK government and leaving UK taxpayers in ownership of over 40% of the bank.
In February of 2015, Lloyds announced that it would resume making dividend payments. For the bank’s 2015 financial results, the bank’s management team stated that the firm’s improved financial performance was due to a “robust UK economy, low unemployment, increased house prices, increased consumer spending and lower household debt.”
Standard Chartered – 5th Top British Bank
Standard Chartered, this year’s fifth top UK bank, is a global banking firm headquartered in London, UK. It has a major global footprint and derives over 90% of its revenue from countries across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
The bank’s stock is listed on the London, Mumbai, and Hong Kong stock exchanges and ranks among the top 15 companies in the FTSE-100.
Standard Chartered provides personal banking, preferred banking, priority and international banking, private banking, online banking, SME banking, wholesale banking, and Islamic banking services.
In 2015, the bank announced major restructuring changes under Bill Winters, its new CEO.
The Best Banks in the UK – Based on Current Accounts with the Highest AER Yields
Now that we have covered the top 5 largest banks in the UK, below is a high-level overview of the best banks in the UK based on the percentage yields that you can earn from depositing money in these banks.
1. TSB Bank – High Yield Account
TSB is rated as one of this year’s best UK banks based on the many high yielding accounts that it provides.
TSB’s Current Plus Account is one of the best current account rates available in the UK.
You receive an astounding interest yield of 5% AER (4.89% gross variable interest) on balances up to £2,000 and 5% cashback on your first £100 of expenses each month.
To be eligible for this account, you must be 18 or over and be a UK resident. Also, you are restricted to only opening one account in your sole name but can open another Plus account in joint names.
Image source: http://www.tsb.co.uk/
2. Nationwide FlexDirect Current Account – Top Ranking List of Best UK Banks
Similar to the AER yield offered by TSB’s current account, Nationwide’s FlexDirect current account gives you 5% AER (4.89% gross p.a.) on balances up to £2,500 (£500 more than TSB’s).
3. Lloyds Bank – High Yield UK Bank Account
Lloyds Bank is number 3 on our list of best UK banks based on its Club Lloyds current account, which offers 4% AER yield.
There is no monthly fee so long as you deposit £1,500 a month into the account.
The account pays the 4% yield if your balance is between £4,000 and £5,000 during the month.
Santander is number 4 on our list of the best banks in the UK based on the yield that it pays on its 123 current accounts.
The bank, which was established in January of 2010, has its head office in the London Borough of Camden. Santander was formed when Abbey National was combined with the banking division sof Bradford & Bingley and renamed as Santander UK.
Santander's 123 Student Current Account pays 3% on balances between £3,000 and £20,000. You earn a 1% AER on balances between £1,000 and £2,000 and a 2% AER on balances between £2,000 and £3,000.
Click here (Ranking of the UK’s Best Current Account Interest Rates) to get additional information on this year’s top current accounts.
Below is a high-level comparison table of the best banks in the UK based on high yielding accounts.
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