The Largest Banks in Canada

Multiple bank headquarters can be found amongst the towers of Toronto's financial district.
Multiple bank headquarters can be found amongst the towers of Toronto's financial district.

The banking sector in Canada is one of the safest in the world. The banking system in Canada has been the soundest financial system in the world for the past six years as reported by the World Economic Forum. The banks in Canada are also called chartered banks. The banks have almost 10,000 branches and almost 20,000 automated banking machines spread across the country and overseas. The banks in Canada are categorized into two; the big banks and the small tier banks. The big banks, also known as the Big Five, are international financial conglomerates with large banking divisions. 

The Big Five Banks

Royal Bank of Canada

The Royal Bank of Canada, or RBC, is the largest bank in Canada by asset value. Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, the bank has over 15 million clients and about 10,000 employees. Royal Bank of Canada was founded in 1864 in Halifax, Novia Scotia as a bank that financed the fishing and timber industries. The Merchant Bank of Halifax expanded into other Maritime Provinces in the 1870s and 1880s. The Merchant Bank of Halifax adopted the name Royal Bank of Canada in 1901. The banking operations of the bank are branded as RBC Royal Bank and serve over 10 million customers through a network of 1,200 branches. The RBC Bank is a subsidiary bank in the US serving more than one million clients in six states. RBC also has several branches in 17 Caribbean countries while RBC Capital Market is a global investment.

Toronto-Dominion Bank

Toronto-Dominion Bank is a multinational banking and financial service institution with its headquarters in Toronto. The bank works in the country as TD Bank Group. The bank was founded in 1955 by the union of the Bank of Toronto which was formed in 1855 and Dominion Bank which was also formed in 1869. TD Bank group is the second largest in the country by asset value, and 19th the world by market capitalization. The bank has over 90,000 staff and 25 million customers worldwide but serves 11 million customers in Canada through its over 1,150 branches. The bank operates in Canada as TD Canada Trust and in the US as TD Bank where it serves over 6.5 million customers.

Bank of Nova Scotia

Bank of Nova Scotia is Canada’s third-largest bank by market capitalization and deposits. The bank has more than 23 million customers across 55 countries offering a wide variety of products and services such as commercial, investment, and personal banking. The bank has an asset value of $654 billion with its shares trading on the Toronto and the New York Stock Exchange. The bank was established in 1832 in Halifax, Nova Scotia and has its executive offices in Toronto, Ontario. The bank is a member of London Bullion Market Association through its subsidiary ScottiaMocatta.

Bank of Montreal

The Bank of Montreal (BMO) is the country’s fourth largest bank by asset value and asset value and also one of the top banks in North America. Founded in 1817, BMO was the first bank in Canada. It established its branches in Newfoundland in 1895 and merged with Milson bank in 1925. The bank has more than 800 branches serving over seven million clients. The BMO Bank of Montreal also operates in Chicago as BMO Harris Bank. The Corporate and investment banking unit of the bank is the BMO Capital Markets. Its dividend payment has the longest history in the world.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has its executive office at Commerce Court in Toronto, Ontario. The CIBC has two strategic business divisions: the World Market and Retail Market. The bank also has its operations in the US, Caribbean, Europe, and Asia and serves over ten million clients. The bank was named the third strongest in the globe by Bloomberg Market magazine. The CIBC was formed in 1961 through coming together of the Canadian Bank of Commerce and the Imperial Bank of Canada which were the country’s largest banks. The government has blocked the proposed merger between the CIBC and other large banks such as TD Bank, BMO, and RBC as not in the interest of the Canadians.

The Tier II Banks

Although the Big Five dominate the Canadian banking sectors, there are other small tier banks which may share the same legal status and regulatory classification with the Big Five. Most of these tier II banks have low asset value compared to the tier I banks. The National Bank of Canada and HSBC bank of Canada have the largest asset value of more than $50 billion while the rest of the tier II banks have an asset value of less than $20 billion. Unlike the Big Five which comprise of other activities outside the regulated bank, most of the tier II banks are limited to banking regulated activities.

The Largest Banks in Canada

RankBankTotal Assets (Billions of Canadian Dollars)
1Royal Bank of Canada1074.28
2Toronto-Dominion Bank1104.37
3Bank of Nova Scotia856.49
4Bank of Montreal641.88
5Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce463.6

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