Once again, the fortunes of the world’s largest banks continued to dominate the headlines. Financial institutions have never been placed under such public scrutiny, from questions on the credibility of risk management programs to politically-sensitive bonus policies. Following the collapse or acquisition of many famous brands, those remaining have been able to take advantage of government bailouts, partially thaw the credit freeze and enjoy the benefits of a less competitive market. As a result, the banking sector has begun to show tangible signs of recovery. Not only have the top 500 most valuable banking brands grown by 62% in terms of market capitalisation, but their brand values have cumulatively increased by 49%. The index also tracks the rise of emerging market bank brands.
In 2008 the most significant rises were to be found in Asia, notably China and India. In 2009 a star performing region is the Middle East, particularly in the GCC states. This is a reflection of buoyant oil and gas receipts, powering many Middle Eastern economies, and the benign effect of ethical Islamic banking practices on demand for Middle East bank products and services. Shariah compliant banking is one of the brightest stars in the banking firmament this year. This is testament to the trust and loyalty which can be engendered when ethical beliefs and behaviour are at the heart of the banking relationship. Islamic banking is providing a timely lesson to the rest of the world banking system. However, the South American region experienced the highest growth in brand value increasing by 84%. This is a reflection of the resilient performance in the region, particularly in the Brazilian banking market.