UK banking sector falling behind international rivals as profits tumble

HSBC leading the way for UK banking sector
HSBC leading the way for UK banking sector
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British banks are failing to keep pace with their international rivals after seeing their profits slip by more than a fifth, a report has found.

The UK’s banking giants have seen their combined profits drop by 22 per cent between last year and this year, while French lenders boosted their financial performance by 30 per cent, according to The Banker’s latest ranking of the Top 1000 banks.

The study said the British fall was driven by a “weak performance” from Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland.

It also warned that the outlook for UK banks looked “even more uncertain” following the vote to leave the European Union.

It said that UK banks now provided 2.6 per cent of world banking profits, compared with 10% a decade ago, while China has seen its contribution soar, stepping up from 4 per cent to 32 per cent over the past ten years.

Brian Caplen, editor of The Banker, said: “While the advent of challenger banks is a healthy sign, they are still very small. The real story of UK banks this year is restructuring, downsizing and falls in profits. They are much less significant in global terms than before the global financial crisis.”

The research revealed that HSBC, which was the world’s second largest bank 10 years ago, was now the only British bank in the global top 10, placing ninth.

RBS has now lost money for eight years on the trot, falling from third place in 2008 to 19th this year.

Barclays also slipped from 13th to 17th, while challenger banks Metro and Sainsbury’s Bank reached 969th and 803 respectively.

It added that losses at RBS and Standard Chartered, coupled with profit falls at Barclays and Lloyds, helped trigger the first drop in UK bank profits since 2013.

It comes on the back of a near 50 per cent rise between 2014 and last year.

However, German banks recorded the largest fall in Europe, with profits down 63 per cent, and China dominated the rankings based on tier one capital, holding the top two positions and four of the top five places.