The Federal Reserve has rolled out a list of top US banks by assets, and we’ve broken down exactly how these financial service giants manage to stay ahead of the competition. For decades, banks have been merging, partnering, and expanding—so much so that the top four banks now account for 50% of all US banking assets.

What else do the top four have in common? In addition to having more than a trillion dollars in consolidated domestic assets, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup each invested big on technology. With COVID-19 has accelerating demand for efficient mobile banking apps and payment systems, the banks hastened tech spending to compete with neobanks and other fintechs. The incumbents’ shift towards digital strategy could give them the edge in appeasing customers at all levels of tech comfort, from traditional to early adopters. Here, they prove that the shift is no longer complementary, but crucial. 

These are the top 10 banks in the US by assets, with key insights as to how they got there, where they plan to go in the future, and how smaller banks can compete in the industry. 

RankBank NameTotal Assets
1JPMorgan Chase$2.87 Trillion
2Bank of America$2.16 Trillion
3Wells Fargo & Co.$1.75 Trillion
4Citigroup$1.65 Trillion
5U.S. Bancorp$530.50 Billion
6Truist Financial Corporation$488.02 Billion
7PNC Financial Services$457.45 Billion
8TD Bank$388.34 Billion
9Capital One$360.26 Billion
10Bank of New York Mellon Corp.$349.43 Billion

1. JPMorgan Chase – $2.87 Trillion

By targeting digitally-savvy consumers and introducing artificial intelligence to its offerings, JPMorgan Chase has been able to outperform its competitors. JPMorgan is playing the long-game by acquiring millennials through digital channels—and hopes to convert them to higher-value customers later on.

Additionally, JPMorgan is investing heavily in banking technology, and boasts the biggest tech budget of all banks in 2019 with $11.4 billion. A key focus of these funds is identifying use cases to implement artificial intelligence, such as enabling investment banking clients to access analyst reports and stock exchange information through voice assistants. In fact, Chase’s digital leads are even looking outside the financial industry to stay ahead. “We’re watching Big Tech,” says Allison Beer, the company’s chief product officer, head of customer experience and digital. “It may be totally unrelated to financial services.”

Chase's mobile banking strategy is key to its growth as a top US bank.  - Insider Intelligence
Chase’s mobile banking strategy is key to its growth as a top US bank. Insider Intelligence

2. Bank of America – $2.16 Trillion

Bank of America has been able to cut costs and appeal to young users by adapting strategies for the digital age. The bank’s digitized branches–which allow customers to access contactless ATMs and connect with call centers via video-conference technology–experienced half the traffic of nearby branches only five months after launching in 2017. 

Since officially launching in 2017, Erica has surpassed a massive 7 million users per year.  - Android Community
Since officially launching in 2017, Erica has surpassed a massive 7 million users per year. Android Community

Bank of America’s digital-only services have also re-defined what the company offers its customers. Its voice-enabled assistant, Erica, provides customers the ability to conduct peer-to-peer payments as well as bill payments. Since officially launching in 2017, Erica has surpassed 15 million users. Digital payments network Zelle allows users to digitally send real-time payments to friends and family. By integrating this feature into its mobile app, Bank of America has opened the door for increased consumer engagement.Among the new financial service products to launch this year, Bank of America released a business-to-consumer (B2C) payout solution that gives users greater flexibility with payments; a new credit card meant for business travellers; and a new cash rewards credit card tied to a rewards program. 

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3. Wells Fargo & Co. – $1.75 Trillion

Wells Fargo is following the lead of top competitors by targeting millennials through mobile financial services. Pay with Wells Fargo is a mobile service where users can access their most used payment features before signing into the app. Additionally, Wells Fargo’s app Greenhouse helps customers simplify their bills and track spending. 

Over the last year, Wells Fargo has been optimizing its business to focus on sectors with strong revenue-generating potential, like credit cards. Going up against its competitors, Wells Fargo announced a new suite of Visa credit cards, representing a direct challenge to a joint card from PayPal, and Synchrony Financial, along with Citigroup’s Double Cash, per Bloomberg.Joining the contactless payment market has also bolstered Wells Fargo’s position as a leading bank—especially amid the pandemic. With 78% of the top 100 US merchants accepting contactless transactions, providing contactless credit and debit cards helps attract users who prefer digital banking methods—and according to Insider Intelligence, 44% of US consumers prefer contactless payments.

4. Citigroup – $1.65 Trillion

For four years in a row, Citibank has been named the “Best Bank for High-Net-Worth Families” by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. For customers that maintain $200,000 in deposit, retirement, and investment accounts, the bank grants them access to its Citigold Package.

Insider Intelligence’s Mobile Banking Competitive Edge Study also shows that Citi took the top spot for digital money management tools, as rated by consumers. By providing five of the category’s seven in-platform features, including the ability to view recurring charges and see a financial wellness score, Citi has secured its spot as one of the best banks in US.

As for the future of growth, it’s all about ensuring “that every product we deliver at Citi is digital first,” says Michael Naggar, chief digital officer of Citibank’s US consumer bank. “Today, digital means taking transactions out of the call center and branch and digitizing them. But our goal is connecting analog and digital so that people can’t see where one ends and the other begins.” 

Now, due to rising interest from its customers, Citigroup is looking into launching crypto services, such as financing, trading, and custody. 

5. U.S. Bancorp – $530.50 Billion

U.S. Bancorp, the parent company of U.S. Bank National Association, earned a spot on the list of top US banks due to its commitment to competing with tech giants making their way into the banking industry.  

With Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google all announcing their desire to launch financial services, U.S. Bancorp decided to improve its own technology. Terry Dolan, the company’s chief financial officer, said that the bank plans to partner with fintechs inorder to maintain competitive banking technology. 

6. Truist Financial Corporation – $488.02 Billion

A newcomer to the top ten, Truist is the bank formed by Branch Banking and Trust Company (BB&T) and SunTrust at the end of 2019. According to the Federal Reserve’s 2019 figures, BB&T and SunTrust were ranked 11th and 12th in bank assets, respectively.

Now operating over 2,000 branches in 15 states and Washington, D.C., the combined bank offers consumer and commercial banking, asset management, securities brokerage, mortgage, and insurance products and financial services.

7. PNC Financial Services – $457.45 Billion

PNC Bank is known as a top bank in the US because it offers specialized perks and services to customers while developing original products. In 2017 PNC began offering mobile payment options to corporate clients who hold Visa commercial cards—allowing them to leverage popular mobile wallets like Apple Pay.

Additionally, in 2019 PNC piloted credit cards with card verification values that periodically refresh, in the hopes of combating fraud. Fraudsters are able to guess three-digit CVV codes relatively easily due to the limited number of permutations; but periodically changing CVVs makes stolen data less valuable.

Most recently, PNC responded to the rise in digital banking by rolling out hybrid branches called solution centers—housing self-serve tools such as video teller machines, ATMs, and mobile workstations while in-person staff assist with more complex needs. The hybrid approach is a strong tactic that aligns well with consumer preferences. For example, a 2020 KPMG survey showed that once the pandemic eases, customers would be less likely to visit branches to manage accounts (6%) or check balances (8%).

8. TD Bank – $388.34 Billion

In addition to having extensive influence abroad, TD Bank has become one of the largest banks in the US due to its integration of artificial intelligence and utilization of digital technology. 

“America’s most convenient bank”, as they tout,  partnered with KAI Consumer Banking to launch Clari, an AI-powered chatbot, in Canada. Clari answers customers’ questions via text message and notifies them when credit card payments are due or how much they spent at a certain store. Chatbots cut down on call volume, and Clari’s success in Canada will likely influence TD Bank to develop a chatbot for its US branches. 

In another partnership, the company teamed up with fintech provider Amount to leverage its digital lending technology, which comes with a suite of tools including fraud detection and account verification. 

9. Capital One – $360.26 Billion

Capital One managed to make the list of top US banks, likely due to its ongoing commitment to digital transformation. Capital One increased its technology staff from 2,500 in 2011 to 9,000 in 2019, helping launch Eno–its AI-powered chatbot, similar to Bank of America’s Erica. 

Despite its major data breach in mid-2019, the bank also came first on our Banking Digital Trust Report, where it was the frontrunner on all six pillars of trust: security, privacy, reputation, reliability, ease of use, and feature breadth. Capital One’s high scores likely stemmed from its recent large-scale cloud migration, which has improved service continuity and facilitated upgrades, as well as reinforced security protocols that helped rebound customer perceptions. 

Capital One also acquired fintech United Income in 2019, a digital platform that offers wealth management services for people moving into retirement. The fintech combines both technological capabilities with human facets, like providing access to a team of wealth managers—making it attractive for consumers who still desire human interaction. 

10. Bank of New York Mellon Corp. – $349.43 Billion

Bank of New York Mellon, commonly known as BNY Mellon, is an investment banking services holding company and one of the oldest banking corporations in the United States. Formed from the 2007 merger of The Bank of New York and the Mellon Financial Corporation, BNY Mellon offers corporate and individual investment services, as well as private banking services for wealthy clients.

How can small banks compete?

Chime Co-founders Chris Britt and Ryan King  - Chime
Chime Co-founders Chris Britt and Ryan King Chime

Neobanks secured a record $2.5 billion globally. Chime, a San Francisco-based neobank, took about four years to reach one million users in 2018. It has since acquired over 4 million users—quadrupling its user base in just one year. The competition put forward by digital-only banks will eventually force traditional banking leaders to revamp their banking practices and offerings due to the increasing digital demands of consumers.