The Big 5 Banks: Which Is The Biggest Bank in Canada?

In the Canadian banking industry, Toronto-Dominion (TD) Bank just about pips the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) as the largest bank in the country measured by assets.

As of October 31, 2021, TD held $1.7 trillion in total assets.

The Big Five Banks

The Canadian banking industry is dominated by only a handful of banks known informally as the Big Five.

These are Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD), Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), Bank of Montreal (BMO), and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).

All five banks maintain their headquarters in Toronto on Bay Street.

Together, these banks constitute more than 85% of the Canadian banking industry.

A wide range of investors hold shares of each bank; by law, each entity or individual can own a maximum of 20% of the outstanding stock.

The Big Five also rank among the top 100 banks in the world.

Below is an overview of the Big Five banks by asset size (as of October 31, 2021) and net revenue (for the twelve months ending October 31, 2021)

Bank Assets (billions) Net Revenue (millions)
1. Toronto-Dominion Bank $1,728.67 $42,693
2. Royal Bank of Canada $1,706.32 $49,693
3.Bank of Nova Scotia $1,184.84 $31,252
4. Bank of Montreal $988.17 $27,186
5. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce $837.68 $20,015

1. Toronto-Dominion Bank

As mentioned, TD is the largest bank in Canada by assets size with assets of $1,728.67 trillion as of October 31, 2021. 

Founded in 1955, TD was the product of a merger between the Bank of Toronto and the Dominion Bank.

Today, the bank provides a broad array of retail, commercial and investment banking products and services domestically and abroad, serving over 22 million customers.

It’s well-known for its extended branch hours, and markets itself as an accessible bank that caters to busy people with hectic schedules.

The bank employs over 90,000 people and operates over 1,100 branches across Canada.

Its subsidiaries include TD Securities, which provides investment banking services and TD Waterhouse, which offers financial planning and wealth management services.

TD reported a net income of over $14.0 billion in its 2021 fiscal year.

Fact!

The Financial Stability Board lists Toronto-Dominion Bank as one of the world’s most systematically important banks.

2. Royal Bank of Canada

RBC’s origins trace to 1864 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where it began business providing financing to the fishing and timber industries in the Maritime Provinces.

Since then, it’s expanded to become the second-largest bank in Canada, with a balance sheet that lists over $1.706 trillion in assets. 

The bank divides its business operations into six segments: Personal and Commercial Banking, Wealth Management, Investor and Treasury Services, Capital Markets, Insurance, and Corporate Support.

RBC maintains a sizable global presence, with branches in more than 30 countries, including the United States and Caribbean region.

The bank boasts over 16 million clients and employs more than 86,000 people worldwide.

It’s also notable for having the most domestic branches and ATMs of any bank in Canada. 

RBC earned a net income of more than $16.1 billion in its 2021 fiscal year.

Picture of old TD Bank in Stratford Ontario

3. Bank of Nova Scotia / Scotiabank

Scotiabank is the third-largest bank in Canada, with total assets valued at over $1.184 trillion.

It began operations in 1832 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

Today, it provides a multitude of retail and commercial banking, wealth management, and corporate and investment banking services to over 25 million customers worldwide.

The bank employs more than 92,000 people.

Scotiabank has acquired many financial institutions over the years.

One of its most well-known subsidiaries is Tangerine Bank, an online bank that offers no-fee chequing and savings accounts.

It has also made purchases of overseas banks in dozens of countries, establishing a reputation as Canada’s premier international bank. 

Scotiabank posted a net income of over $9.9 billion in its 2021 fiscal year.

Did You Know?

The Canadian banking industry is one of the safest and most robust globally.
Strict regulations have enabled it to effectively weather large-scale financial crises, such as the Financial Crisis of 2007-2008.

4. Bank of Montreal

Coming in at number four on the list is BMO, a bank with assets valued at over $988 billion.

BMO was formed in Montreal, Quebec in 1817, and is the oldest of the Big Five banks.

It employs a workforce of nearly 43,000 people that provides a wide range of banking services to over 12 million customers worldwide.

It has a network of more than 900 branches across Canada.

The bank obtains its revenue from three different “client groups”: Personal and Commercial Client Group (retail banking), Investment Banking Group (capital markets), and Private Client Group (wealth management).

BMO entered the American banking market in 1818 and continues operations south of the border under its subsidiary BMO Harris Bank.

The bank earned a net income of over $7.7 billion in its 2021 fiscal year.

5. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

Canada’s fifth-largest bank is CIBC, whose balance sheet contains assets worth over $837.7 billion.

CIBC dates back to 1961 when it was formed through a merger of the Canadian Bank of Commerce and Imperial Bank of Canada.

The bank has over 44,000 employees and provides banking services to over 10 million customers worldwide.

In Canada, it has a network of over 1,100 branches.

Globally, it maintains operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean.

It derives its income through three business units: Personal and Business Banking, Commercial Banking and Wealth Management, and Capital Markets. 

CIBC reported a net income of over $6.4 billion in its 2021 fiscal year.

Key Insight

In 1998, TD Bank and CIBC agreed to merge, but the Federal Government blocked the action on the grounds that it would be detrimental to Canadians.

Other Notable Canadian Banks

Though the Big Five constitute the bulk of Canada’s banking industry in terms of market share, many other smaller institutions thrive alongside them.

More than 80 banks operate in the country, consisting of domestic institutions, subsidiaries of foreign banks, and full-service branches of foreign banks. 

National Bank of Canada

Founded in 1979, the National Bank of Canada is the leading bank in Quebec and the sixth-largest bank in Canada.

It reported over $355 billion in assets as of October 31, 2021.

The bank’s operations in Quebec account for much of its revenue. However, it’s expanded both domestically and internationally during the past 20 years, generating over 40% of income outside Quebec since 2017.  

With a network of over 400 branches, the National Bank of Canada offers a comprehensive suite of banking products and services to more than 2.4 million customers across the country. 

The bank reported a net income of $3.1 billion for F2021.

HSBC Bank Canada

HSBC Bank Canada has the distinction of being the largest foreign bank in the country, with total assets valued at over $121 billion as of September 30, 2021.

Incorporated in 1981, this Vancouver-based bank operates across the country as a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc, a British banking and financial services firm.

The bank derives its income from three business lines: Commercial Banking, Global Banking and Markets, and Wealth and Personal Banking. 

The bank employs over 6,000 people and has acquired numerous Canadian and American banks since the mid-90s to diversify its business operations.

The HSBC Bank of Canada reported over $530 million in net income for the nine months ending September 30, 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the 10 largest banks in Canada?
  • Which is bigger: TD or RBC?

Mark is a freelance writer who specializes in writing content for firms in the financial services industry, including fintech. He has written for brands like Loans Canada, LowestRates, and The Motley Fool, covering topics related to investing, mortgages, credit cards, and many others.

He is passionate about educating people on how the financial markets work and providing tips to help them better manage their money. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and has more than a decade of experience as an accountant.

Outside of writing and finance, he enjoys playing poker, going to the gym, composing music, and learning about digital marketing.