Data compiled by the Federal Reserve shows that U.S.
commercial banks currently hold roughly $10.7 trillion in deposits
- a figure that has more than doubled over the decade from the
$5-trillion level in late 2004. ((
Assets and Liabilities of Commercial Banks in the
United States (Weekly) - H.8
, Federal Reserve Website)) Over recent years, the single biggest
factor behind the sharp increase in the banks' deposit base is the
low interest rate environment that has persisted since the economic
downturn of 2008. This is because the record-low interest level has
forced individual as well as institutional investors to shift a
bulk of their liquid assets into interest-bearing deposits due to
the lack of many lucrative investment options.
While a steady growth in deposits is expected over time and is
essential to ensure low-cost funds for the country's banking
system, this exceptionally high growth rate has actually been an
issue for the banks. This is because they have had to incur much
higher interest expenses on deposits over the period - exacerbating
the problem of shrinking net interest margins across the industry.
While it can be argued that the banks also generate several
fee-based revenues from their deposit services, the growth in these
revenues has not been fast enough to counter the associated
In this article we detail the changes in deposits at the
country's four largest banks - JPMorgan Chase (
), Bank of America (
), Citigroup (
) - over the last three years. While JPMorgan overtook Bank of
America to become the bank with the largest deposit base in late
2011, the strong growth in deposits for Wells Fargo over recent
quarters will likely result in the country's largest bank in terms
of market capitalization becoming the largest bank in terms of
deposits in the near future.
See the full Trefis analysis for
| JPMorgan | Bank of America| Citigroup
The following table shows the average quarterly value of all
deposits held by these four banks over the last twelve quarters.
The data has been compiled using figures reported by individual
banks as part of their quarterly announcements and includes both
interest-bearing and non-interest-bearing deposits.
(in $ billions)
Bank of America
One thing that stands out from the table above is the sheer size
of the deposit base for these four banks. At the end of Q4 2014,
these banks had almost $4.6 trillion in deposits among them - which
is almost 45% of the total deposits for all U.S. commercial banks.
The fact that the total size of deposits for the fifth largest
commercial bank - U.S.Bancorp - is just $271 billion should give a
clear idea of how large these financial institutions are.
That said, it should be noted that these banks do not operate
exclusively in the U.S., and have a considerable retail banking
presence outside the country. Citigroup stands out in this regard,
as the globally diversified banking group reported an average
deposit base of just under $415 billion in the U.S. for Q4 2014 -
44% of its total deposit size. In comparison, deposits in the U.S.
account for 94% and 91% of the deposit base for Bank of America and
Wells Fargo respectively. Non-U.S. deposits account for a little
more than 20% of JPMorgan's total deposits. Taking in consideration
only the deposits from U.S. operations for these banks, their total
deposit base in the U.S. is roughly $3.6 trillion - well over
one-third of the total deposits held by all U.S. commercial
JPMorgan leads the industry with almost $1.3 trillion worth of
customer deposits across its global branch network. Having grabbed
the top spot from Bank of America by the end of Q3 2011, the
diversified financial giant accounts for slightly less than 10% of
all deposits in the country. The only quarter in which the bank
reported a sizable decline - Q2 2012 - is when it revealed a
multi-billion dollar loss from the "London Whale"
incident. The steady growth in its deposit base since then
shows that customers did not take much time to put the debacle
behind them. Over the last three years, JPMorgan has seen deposits
grow at an average annual rate of just under 7% - a remarkable feat
considering the sheer size of the bank's existing deposit base.
JPMorgan's exceptional growth rate is rivaled only by Wells
Fargo, which saw deposits grow an average of 9.5% annually over the
same period. Wells Fargo came out of the economic downturn without
any major legal trouble despite having swelled in size from its
acquisition of Wachovia. The bank also gained from the
mortgage refinancing wave, as thousands of customers who switched
to Wells Fargo's mortgage offerings also moved their deposit
accounts to the bank. This helped the bank cement the second
position in the list - overtaking Bank of America in late 2013.
Bank of America witnessed the slowest growth among these banks,
as its deposit base grew by under 2.4% on average over the last
three years. The bank's focus on cutting costs by getting rid of
branches in lower-profitability regions as a part of its Project
New BAC reorganization plan is responsible for this. On the other
hand, Citigroup's deposit base has shown the largest amount of
fluctuation over the years. This can be attributed to the banking
giant's significant international diversification, which makes the
dollar value of its deposit base extremely sensitive to foreign
exchange rate changes from one quarter to the next. This is
particularly true for the second half of 2014, when the
strengthening dollar negatively impacted the size of total
This brings us to an important question regarding the banks'
deposit base - will it continue to grow at these high rates over
coming years? We don't expect it to. As we pointed out, the biggest
reason for the high growth rate since 2010 has been the Fed's
decision to maintain interest rates at record low levels. With the
Fed winding up its asset purchase program and hinting at a hike in
interest rates as early as June this year, the interest rate
environment can be expected to improve over subsequent quarters.
This will open up better investment options for individuals as well
as institutions - which will likely drastically reduce the deposit
growth rate. In fact, the growth rate has fallen to a great extent
over the last few quarters, and we expect this trend to continue
for a few more quarters before stabilizing.
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