Swedish bank SEB makes a significant leap this year to take first place in the Swiss rankings with 78.9 points out of 100, improving by an impressive 19 points. Co-national Swedbank follows in second place with 62 points with Swiss bank Credit Suisse in third place with 59.5 points.
The banking average rose 1.3 points to 40.8 points, slightly below the European average of 42.7
This year’s result shows that of the 49 banks included in the ranking, the number of banks passing the stress test has increased from 27% in the 2016-2016 edition to 31% this year. 38% fall into the “held back” category (meaning they achieved between 30-50 points), with 31% failing the test altogether (meaning they achieved below 30/100 points).
The past year has seen a series of challenging socio-economic and political events. From Brexit to Trump’s unprecedented campaign; from Europe’s spreading populist movements to global bank scandals, the Western world has seen an erosion of people’s trust of their political leaders and on the established global financial institutions. These events have brought about immense uncertainties on future policies and political agendas, making proactive and transparent dialogue between banks and their stakeholders in order to rebuild trust a top communications priority.
Our research sheds some light on how banks are communicating information deemed important by stakeholders such as a clear strategy, career policies, risk management and so forth. Seen through the lens of Europe’s 49 largest banks by market capitalization, the research evaluates the sector’s ability to distinguish itself in an increasingly competitive and challenging environment. Being able to articulate the company’s position on corporate issues through digital channels and demonstrate engagement in social media translates not only into an ability to respond to potential crises but also to generate opportunity to build a competitive advantage and regain trust from an increasingly skeptical consumer and stakeholder base.
On strategy, for example, 18% of European banks provide concrete actions on how the company plans to achieve their suggested goals, up from 15% in 2015. However, this number is still low given that 95% of investors would like to see this information.
The research also highlights the trend that Europe’s top banks are more actively engaging in public action to tackle their social responsibilities. The result shows that 72% of banks have a CSR strategy in place this year, with 30% of them connected directly to the business. Some banks directly outline their positions and actions on global challenges, taking into account the UN SDGs on climate change and gender equality. The Swiss bank UBS, France’s BNP Paribas, and Germany’s Deutsche Bank are several distinguished forerunners in this category.
European banks surpass their international peers by 6.6 points, with the global average reaching 34.2 points. The highest scoring European bank SEB (78.9 points) scores 29.4 points more than the highest scoring bank in the US, Bank of America (49.5 points). China Construction Bank is the lowest scoring bank with a mere 10.3 points.
Areas of weakness for global banks are the IR, CSR and Governance sections - sections of the corporate website that require the most transparency from significant stakeholders (investors, customers and journalists).