Overview of Banks in South Africa
The South African Reserve Bank serves as the central bank of the Republic of South Africa. It was created in June 1921 under the Currency and Bank Act of 1920. It oversees the operations of banks in South Africa, and works to achieve and maintain stability in domestic prices.
The South African Reserve Bank also performs the following functions:
- Ensures a sound banking and financial system in the country
- Issues banknotes and coins
- Acts as a banker to the government
- Acts as a lender of last resort
- Manages the country’s foreign exchange and gold reserves
Moody’s rates South Africa’s banking system as negative. The rating agency believes that the creditworthiness of banks in South Africa is likely to face pressure in the next 12 to 18 months. Weak operating conditions are expected to particularly challenge local banks’ loan quality and overall profitability.
For anyone considering a banking career in South Africa, this list of top banks in South Africa is a helpful guide on where to start. To learn more, see all our list of financial institutions.
The top banks in South Africa are:
Established in 1966, Nedbank is a subsidiary of Nedbank Group Ltd. The bank offers payments and receipts, documentary credits and collections, guarantees, trade finance, foreign currency accounts, and treasury services. It also provides cash management, electronic banking, trade, and custodial services, and merchant payment and support services.
The bank manages 786 outlets and over 4,000 ATMs across the country. Based out of Sandton City, it employs around 32,300 staff.
As of 2017, total assets of the bank were US$82.30 billion and the net profit of the bank was US$908 million.
Founded in 1969, Standard Bank operates through two business segments:
- Personal and Business Banking
- Corporate and Investment Banking
The bank oversees 1,221 branches and over 8,800 ATMs across the country. With around 48,000 employees, it operates out of Johannesburg City.
As of 2016, the bank’s total assets of amounted to US$166.48 billion and net profit reached US$2.014 billion.
Headquartered in Johannesburg City, ABSA is a subsidiary of Barclays Africa Group Limited. Incorporated in 1991, it offers various banking products and services. ABSA has roughly 30,000 employees.
In 2016, the bank reported total assets of US$84 billion and a net profit of US$687 million.
First Rand Ltd
First Rand Ltd is a subsidiary of FirstRand Limited. Established in 1966, the bank provides retail, commercial, corporate, and investment banking services. It operates through three divisions, which are actually three individual banks in South Africa: First National Bank, Rand Merchant Bank, and WesBank. With around 36,000 employees, it is headquartered in Sandton.
As of 2016, the bank’s total assets were US$98 billion and net profit was US$1.92 billion.
Bidvest Bank operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bidvest Group Limited, an international business conglomerate. The bank specializes in foreign exchange and also offers retail banking, vehicle insurance, and financing. It operates with a “locally-controlled bank” license issued by the Reserve Bank of South Africa. Based out of Johannesburg, it employs around 117,000 staff.
Barclays Africa Group
Formerly known as ABSA Group Limited, Barclays Africa Group Limited offers a wide range of financial services in South Africa. In 2013, the bank changed its name to Barclays Africa Group Limited. It provides personal and business banking, corporate and investment banking, credit cards, bancassurance, and wealth and investment management services. With around 42,000 employees, it operates out of Johannesburg.
In 2016, the bank reported total assets of US$94 billion and a net profit of US$1.35 billion.
Incorporated in 2004, Grindrod Bank operates as a subsidiary of Grindrod Financial Holdings Limited. Headquartered in Durban, the bank provides private client lending, traditional mortgage financing, mezzanine financing, debtor financing, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and private equity products.
As of 2016, the bank’s total assets amounted to US$1.29 billion and net profit reached US$14.74 million.
Established in 1951, Sasfin Bank is a subsidiary of Sasfin Holdings Limited and is one of the oldest banks in South Africa. Based out of Waverley City, the bank offers specialized banking and financial services to entrepreneurial, corporate, commercial, and private clients.
As of 2016, total assets of the bank were US$1.08 billion and net profit was US$20.28 million.
Investec Bank, a subsidiary of Investec Limited, operates as one of the specialist banks in South Africa. Founded in 1974, the bank offers investment, corporate, and institutional banking, as well as private banking services.
Operating out of Sandton, Investec specifically serves corporates, government, and institutional clients, high net worth individuals, entrepreneurs, high-income professionals, self-employed entrepreneurs, owner-managers in mid-market companies, and investors.
As of 2016, the bank posted total assets of US$35 billion and a net profit of US$296 million.
Headquartered in Stellenbosch, Capitech is a subsidiary of Capitec Bank Holdings Ltd. It provides services such as mobile banking, card machines, workplace banking, money transfers, financial education for employees of a company, and salary transfers. Established in 1980, it employs around 11,440 individuals. It serves around 7.3 million clients and manages 720 branches across the country.
As of 2016, total assets of the bank were US$5.36 billion and net profit was US$2.726 billion.
Careers in investment banking
To break into investment banking, there are several important things to focus on. These include networking, resume, experience, and financial modeling skills. To learn more, explore our interactive career map…. For banking careers, you will have a significant edge over the competition with our financial modeling courses.
This has been a guide to the top banks in South Africa. For anyone looking for a career in banking, CFI’s Financial Modeling Designation may be a great asset for your resume. Please also see these additional resources: