According to Nicholas Kyriacopoulos, whatever your banking needs, it is always a good idea to start with the basics and understand the top banking institutions before looking at more niche or specialized options.
In Canada, the top banking institutions are often referred to as a group called the Big Five.
What Are the Big Five Banks?
The Big Five Banks is a term used in Canada to describe the five largest banks:
1. Royal Bank of Canada
2. The Bank of Montreal
3. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
4. The Bank of Nova Scotia
5. Toronto-Dominion Bank
Sometimes you will hear people refer to the Big Six instead of five, including the National Bank of Canada in the same group as the other major institutions.
Altogether the Five Big Banks hold over $100 billion in assets, and all five of them are based in Toronto.
1. Royal Bank of Canada
The Royal Bank of Canada is the largest of the Big Five in terms of net revenue and capitalization. It has more than 17 million clients in Canada and worldwide, with over 86,000 employees and over 1,300 branches.
2. Toronto-Dominion Bank
The second-largest bank in Canada is the Toronto-Dominion Bank. The Toronto-Dominion Bank has the most assets of any Canadian bank, along with over 9.6 million clients worldwide, 25,000 employees, and over 1,100 branches. The bank was formed as a result of a merger of the Bank of Toronto and the Dominion Bank, leading to its current name.
3. Bank of Nova Scotia
The Bank of Nova Scotia, also known as Scotiabank, is the third-largest bank in Canada with assets valued at $1.1 trillion Canadian dollars at the end of 2020, and total revenue of 31 billion dollars in the same year. The bank has over 11 million customers in Canada and an additional 10 million customers outside of Canada, 92,000 full-time employees, and over 900 branches in Canada.
4. Bank of Montreal
The Bank of Montreal is the fourth largest Canadian bank with close to a trillion Canadian dollars worth of assets and revenue of 25 billion dollars at the end of 2020. The bank has over 8 million clients in Canada and almost 900 branches, employing a total of more than 42,000 people in full-time positions across the globe.
5. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce was formed in 1961 after a merger between the Canadian Bank of Commerce and the Imperial Bank of Canada. As of the end of last year, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce had around 770 billion Canadian dollars in assets and a revenue of 18.7 billion dollars, with capitalization of 44 billion Canadian dollars. The bank has over 11 million clients in Canada and is spread around the world, with 1,100 branches in Canada and over 44,000 full-time employees worldwide.
What is the best bank to use in Canada?
The right banking institution for you depends on your financial needs and goals, such as considering the number of transactions you usually need to make every month, your need for in-person customer service and individual account flexibility, and whether you have a need for premium perks.
Which banks have no monthly fees?
If you are looking for a no-fee bank, the most obvious option is to choose an online bank. Montreal and Toronto based Nicholas Kyriacopoulos warns that online banks have their own set of pros and cons, however. You pay minimal or no fees for day-to-day banking transactions, in some cases even when transferring between currencies, but most transactions can only be conducted online as they lack branches, and it can be difficult to get a customized service according to your needs, and they lack flexibility in general as they are usually designed to be as automated as possible.