Pakistan’s banking industry was in flux during the past five years as the discount rates dramatically reduced to 5.75 percent and then gradually peaked at 13.25 percent.
Traditionally, banks made money from TBills and PIBs, but the lower interest rates caused them to move to give out loans to the private sector. As the interest rates increase again, banks are moving to invest in government papers again. The high policy rate since 2018 has made banking companies make a U-turn towards investing in government bonds to make secure and easy profits.
At the same time, the closure of profitable branches in the international markets mainly in New York hit the bottom lines of two major banks—HBL and UBL, which changed the situation of the banking industry, providing a space for other banks to compete with them in profit-making.
Previously, commercial banks couldn’t compete with the five major banks due to their asset size, branch network, decades-old history of operations, the strength of staff and brand image, etc. But the status quo has been broken as the banks are very close to each other in rankings for profitability.
1. National Bank of Pakistan
National Bank of Pakistan, being state-owned, remained the most profitable bank. It surpassed MCB Bank, which recorded the highest profit in the industry at the end of 2018.
The public sector bank recorded a profit of Rs. 16.33 billion in the first nine months of 2019, showing a marginal growth of 1 percent. The bank also achieved an asset value of Rs. 3 trillion in 2019.
2. MCB Bank
MCB Bank lost its crown of the most profitable bank to NBP but it stands very close to the NBP as it made a profit of Rs. 16.29 billion in the same period. It recorded a handsome 14 percent growth in its profitability year-on-year.
The bank is set to reclaim its position in the remaining period of the current year.
3. United Bank Limited
United Bank Limited (UBL) has retained its third position in the banking industry. It recorded an impressive 50 percent year-on-year growth in the first nine months of 2019 to stand at Rs. 14.22 billion. UBL’s profit gap with MCB Bank and NBP is notable but the bank can make an upset in the coming months keeping in view the growth rate of profitability.
It is pertinent to mention that earlier, UBL achieved a remarkable profit of Rs. 25 billion in 2017.
4. Standard Chartered Bank
Standard Chartered Bank jumped to the fourth position from sixth. It has shown a startling performance in the banking industry particularly when a bank is operating with a limited branch network and workers compared with leading banks such as Habib Bank Limited and Allied Bank Limited which the UK-based bank left in the dust in terms of profitability.
Standard Chartered’s profit surged to Rs. 11.4 billion by the end of Q3 2019 as compared to Rs. 7.77 billion recorded in the corresponding period of last year, showing a massive growth of 47 percent year-on-year.
5. Meezan Bank
Meezan Bank surprised the industry. It improved its ranking from the eighth position to settle on the 5th. The bank recorded outstanding profit growth of 75 percent year on year to stand at Rs. 10.94 billion.
6. Allied Bank Limited
Allied Bank Limited dropped from 4th place to 6th place in terms of profit. The bank recorded a profit of Rs. 9.405 billion in the period as compared with Rs. 9.968 billion last year, showing a drop of 6 percent in profit. The bank has become the fifth in the industry to mobilize deposits of over Rs. 1 trillion.
7. Bank Alfalah
Bank Alfalah maintained its growth in profitability, which increased 7 percent year-on-year to stand at Rs. 9.2 billion by the end of the third quarter of 2019. The bank maintained its ranking at no. 7 in the banking industry, however, it may surpass Allied Bank in the current fiscal year.
8. Habib Bank Limited
Habib Bank Limited is on the declining trend in terms of its ranking and profitability. The former most profitable bank of the industry is now in the 8th position.
The bank’s profit declined to Rs. 8.82 billion in the nine months of 2019 as compared with a profit of Rs. 9.91 reported in the same period last year showing a 10 percent (over Rs. 1 billion) decline year-on-year.
It is pertinent to mention here that the bank posted its highest annual profit of Rs. 34 billion in 2016, which was the highest ever profit in the history of the bank and the industry.
The bank has the potential to bounce back in the long term having the most experienced and qualified members of the board and management.
9. Bank Al Habib
Bank Al-Habib Limited has recorded double-digit profit growth of 18 percent in the nine months of 2019. Despite an increase of over Rs. 1 billion in profit, the bank maintained its ranking from the previous position at No.9.
The bank’s profit stands at Rs. 7 billion and is likely to break its all-time high record of Rs. 8.5 billion by the end of the business year 2019.
10. Bank of Punjab
Bank of Punjab (BoP) has also retained its position at No. 10. The bank has reported a double-digit profit growth of 13 percent for the first three-quarters of 2019 compared with the same time period last year.
The bank’s profit grew to Rs. 6.18 billion during the period, compared to a profit of Rs. 5.44 billion earned last year.
Besides these top 10 most profitable banks of Pakistan, banks including Habib Metro with a profit of Rs. 5.7 billion, Faysal Bank with a profit Rs. 4.4 billion and Askari Bank with a profit of Rs. 4.3 billion can upset the rankings in the closing quarter of 2019 with their earnings and profitability.
The fourth and final quarter of the calendar year has been tough for the banks as the management and staff are working hard to achieve their targets as per their business plans.
The rankings of these banks may vary next year based on the operational and financial performances of the banks from February onwards.