The Federal Reserve has rolled out a list of top US banks by assets, and we've broken down exactly how these banking giants manage to stay ahead of the competition. For decades banks have been merging, partnering, and expanding — so much so that the top four banks now account for 50% of all US banking assets.
Here are the top 10 banks in the US by assets, with key insights as to how they got there, where they plan to go in the future, and how smaller banks can compete in the industry.
By targeting digitally-savvy consumers and introducing artificial intelligence to its offerings, JPMorgan Chase has been able to outperform its competitors. JPMorgan is playing the long-game by acquiring millennials through digital channels — and hopes to convert them to higher-value customers later on.
Additionally, JPMorgan is investing heavily in banking technology, and boasts the biggest tech budget of all banks in 2019 with $11.4 billion. A key focus of these funds is identifying use cases to implement artificial intelligence, such as enabling investment banking clients to access analyst reports and stock information through voice assistants.
Bank of America has been able to cut costs and appeal to young users by adapting strategies for the digital age. The bank's digitized branches – which allow customers to access contactless ATMs and connect with call centers via video-conference technology – experienced half the traffic of nearby branches only five months after launching in 2017.
Bank of America's digital-only services Zelle and Erica have also re-defined what the company offers its retail banking customers. Zelle allows users to digitally send real-time payments to friends and family, and by integrating this feature into its mobile app, Bank of America has opened the door for increased consumer engagement.
Bank of America has also seen success with its voice-enabled assistant, Erica, which provides customers the ability to conduct peer-to-peer payments as well as bill payments. Since officially launching in 2017, Erica has surpassed a massive 7 million users per year.
For three years in a row, Citibank has been named the "Best Bank for High-Net-Worth Families" by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. For customers that maintain $200,000 in deposit, retirement, and investment accounts, the bank grants them access to its Citigold Package.
Business Insider Intelligence's Mobile Banking Competitive Edge Study also shows that Citi took the top spot for mobile banking features, as rated by consumers. Citi saw a massive increase in digital banking users in 2019 – up 11.3% year-over-year – and its mobile users grew twice as fast at 22.4% YoY. This growth, combined with the company's electronic client statements surging to 50%, demonstrates that Citi has secured its spot as one of the best banks in US.
Wells Fargo is following the lead of top competitors by targeting millennials through mobile banking services. Pay with Wells Fargo is a mobile service where users can access their most used payment features before signing into the app. Additionally, Wells Fargo's app Greenhouse helps customers simplify their bills and track spending.
Joining the contactless payment market has also bolstered Wells Fargo's position as a leading bank. With 78% of the top 100 US merchants accepting contactless transactions, providing contactless credit and debit cards helps attract users who prefer digital banking methods - and according to Business Insider Intelligence, 44% of US consumers prefer contactless payments.
Since launching Marcus, an online bank that offers customers fixed-rate, fee-free unsecured loans and high-yield savings accounts, Goldman Sachs has become one of the largest banks in the US. The banking giant has made several acquisitions for Marcus, including personal finance management app Clarity Money.
Clarity Money was an early step Goldman took to breaking into the digital-only banking industry, and allows users to open a Marcus savings account directly through their mobile device.
The firm also partnered with Apple to develop their co-brand Apple Card – giving users who have an associated iPhone access to rewards, money management features, and the ability to choose either a digital or physical card.
Acquiring and investing in startups and other businesses, combined with the decision to explore new ways to integrate technology with existing banking services, has allowed Goldman Sachs to become one of the largest banks in the US.
After acquiring Solium Capital, a global provider of Software-as-a-Service for stock administration, financial reporting, and compliance, Morgan Stanley gained access to new technology and millennial employees who propelled the company into the digital banking market.
By 2030, it is projected that millenials in North America will control $20 trillion of global assets, and Morgan Stanley is looking at Solium's young clients as its future affluent customers.
Additionally, Morgan Stanley partnered with Box,a cloud content management service, to launch a "Digital Vault," an encrypted, cloud-based platform that allows Morgan Stanley's wealth management clients to easily share financial documents. The firm's wealth management business already contributes 44% of its revenue, and the "Digital Vault" is expected to accelerate this segment even further.
U.S. Bancorp, the parent company of U.S. Bank National Association, earned a spot on the list of top US banks due to its commitment to competing with tech giants making their way into the banking industry.
With Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google all announcing their desire to launch banking services, U.S. Bancorp decided to improve its own technology. According to Business Insider Intelligence, Terry Dolan –chief financial officer of U.S. Bancorp – said that the bank plans to partner with fintechs inorder to maintain competitive banking technology.
PNC Bank is known as a top bank in the US because it offers specialized perks and services to customers while developing original products. In 2017 PNC began offering mobile payment options to corporate clients who hold Visa commercial cards - allowing them to leverage popular mobile wallets like Apple Pay.
Additionally, in 2019 PNC piloted credit cards with card verification values that periodically refresh, in the hopes of combating fraud. Fraudsters are able to guess three-digit CVV codes relatively easily due to the limited number of permutations; but periodically changing CVVs makes stolen data less valuable.
In addition to having extensive influence abroad, TD Bank has become one of the largest banks in the US due to its integration of artificial intelligence and utilization of digital technology.
TD Bank partnered with to launch Clari, an AI-powered chatbot, in Canada. Clari answers customers' questions via text message and notifies them when credit card payments are due or how much they spent at a certain store. Chatbots cut down on call volume, and Clari's success in Canada will likely influence TD Bank to develop a chatbot for its US branches.
In another partnership, TD Bank teamed up with fintech provider Amount to leverage its digital lending technology, which comes with a suite of tools including fraud detection and account verification.
Despite its recent data breach, Capital One still managed to make the list of top US banks, likely due to its ongoing commitment to digital transformation.
Capital One increased its technology staff from 2,500 in 2011 to 9,000 in 2019, launched Eno – its AI-powered chatbot, similar to Bank of America's Erica – and is in the midst of a multi-year migration of its back-end software development tools to the cloud.
Capital One also acquired fintech United Income in 2019, a digital platform that offers wealth management services for people moving into retirement. The fintech combines both technological capabilities with human facets, like providing access to a team of wealth managers - making it attractive for consumers who still desire human interaction.
How can small banks compete?
Breaking into the digital banking industry is key for smaller firms looking to become major US banks. Neobanks – digital-only banks that aren't tied to traditional banking technology or expensive physical branches – are gaining steam in the US and secured a record $2.5 billion globally in funding for the first half of 2019.
Chime, a San Francisco-based neobank, took about four years to reach one million users in 2018. It has since acquired over 4 million users - quadrupling its user base in just one year. The competition put forward by digital-only banks will eventually force traditional banking leaders to revamp their banking practices and offerings due to the increasing digital demands of consumers.
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