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 into 2021 amid difficult operating conditions and sovereign pressures straining banks’ credit profiles. Loan quality, profitability, and foreign currency liquidity will be the main stress points next year for banks, although stable funding and capital could limit the impact.
Difficult operating conditions are expected to persist for African sovereigns, with the resulting pressures also weighing on banks’ credit profiles. The economic slowdown will hamper banks’ performance, while the governments’ ability to provide support remains impaired. Furthermore, banks will remain heavily invested in government securities, which further reinforces the close credit linkages between banks and their respective sovereigns.
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 our list of financial institutions.
The top banks in South Africa are:
Established in 1831, 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.
Nedbank manages 786 outlets and over 4,000 ATMs across the country. Based out of Johannesburg, The bank employs around 28,600 staff.
Net income: ZAR 3.47 billion (2020)
Total assets: ZAR 1.23 trillion (2020)
Standard Bank of South Africa
Founded in 1969, Standard Bank of South Africa operates through two business segments: Personal and Business Banking and 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.
Net income: ZAR 13.16 billion (2020)
Total assets: ZAR 2,532 trillion (2020)
Headquartered in Johannesburg City, ABSA is a subsidiary of Barclays Africa Group Limited. Incorporated in 1991, it offers various banking products and services. ABSA employs about 27,000 staff.
Net income: ZAR 2.07 billion (2020)
Total assets: ZAR 1.29 trillion (2020)
First Rand Bank Ltd
First Rand Bank 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 38,200 employees, it is headquartered in Sandton.
Net income: ZAR 12.02 billion (2020)
Total assets: ZAR 1.47 trillion (2020)
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 1,037 staff.
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.
Net income: ZAR -363.99 million (2020)
Total assets: ZAR 23.60 billion (2020)
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.
Net income: ZAR -92.27 billion (2020)
Total assets: ZAR 12.56 billion (2020)
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.
Net income: ZAR 4.0 billion (3/2021)
Total assets: ZAR 509.90 billion (3/2021)
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, Capitech employs around 14,672 individuals. It serves around 7.3 million clients and manages 857 branches and 6,725 ATMs across the country.
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: