For the first time, the combined brand value of China’s lenders has surpassed that of the United States, according to valuation consultancy Brand Finance.
China’s bank brands now account for 24 percent (US$258 billion) of the total brand value of the Brand Finance Banking 500 ranking, while the US is just one percentage point short at 23 percent (US$242 billion).
Why? China’s banking consumers demonstrate less "cynicism" and more "domestic loyalty and economic patriotism" as opposed to western consumers, states the study.
Interestingly, trust and affinity for Chinese bank brands compared to European or American ones is partly due to the simple fact that local financial institutions have yet to experience the major scandals that have dogged those in the West, with patriotism to homegrown financiers a strong boon.
Another driver has been the acceleration of Chinese M&A activity abroad, with notable takeovers as ChemChina’s acquisition of Syngenta in Switzerland or Haier Group’s of GE’s home appliance division in America. These provided growth opportunities for the country’s banks beyond the local market, added Brand Finance’s CEO David Haigh.
These have all resulted in "formidable" brand equity and value for China’s banks. Already the world’s biggest bank by assets, ICBC’s brand value has grown 32 percent year on year to a total of US$47.8 billion.
Particularly, the success of the Chinese banks comes at the expense of Wells Fargo in the US, which has lost its position as the world’s most valuable banking brand thanks to a 6 percent fall to US$41.6 billion.
Wells Fargo has been the architect of its own misfortune, states the study. Its fake accounts scandal has seen its reputation take a hit, after over 2 million accounts and credit cards were opened without customer consent. This ordeal resulted in the resignation of the bank’s CEO as well as an investigation to determine whether employees committed crimes of false impersonation and identity theft.
In Europe, the situation remains torrid since the 2008 global financial crisis, with Brexit worsening it. The most valuable bank brands from the UK, France, Germany and Italy (HSBC, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and Intesa Sanpaolo) all declined in brand value by as much as 41 percent.
Canada’s banks are an exception to the general western trend. RBC leads the way with brand value growth of 28 percent to US$12.7 billion. Meanwhile, TD, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal, CIBC and Desjardins have all posted double-digit numbers.
The fastest growing brand among the top 500 banks this year is also Chinese. Harbin Bank’s brand has trebled in value over the course of 2016 to US$811 million.
Brand Finance calculates the values of the brands in its league tables using the ‘Royalty Relief approach’. This involves estimating the likely future sales that are attributable to a brand and calculating a royalty rate that would be charged for the use of the brand, i.e. what the owner would have to pay for the use of the brand—assuming it were not already owned.