The French banking system is well organized and stable. 95% of SMEs obtain at least 80% or more of the investment loans they requested. There are approximately 350 banks operating in France including 130 foreign banks. The banking sector employs around 368,000 people and maintains over 37,000 branches and 56,700 ATMs across the country. More than 98% employees are under permanent contracts. The number of payment cards in circulation equals approximately 83 million. The four French banks are among the top 10 banks in Europe. Opening hours of banks are usually between 9 am and 5 pm. Branches of La Banque Postale have working hours from 9 am until 6:30 pm. Below is a list of the largest and best banks in France ranked by total assets.

BNP Paribas

Headquartered in Paris, BNP Paribas is the largest bank in France and the second largest bank in Europe after HSBC. The Bank’s two main business lines are Retail Banking & Services (RBS) and Corporate Institutional Banking (CIB). With operations in 73 countries, it employs more than 202,000 people including 155,000 employees in Europe, 20,290 in America, 18,700 in Asia Pacific, 10,000 in Africa and 515 in the Middle-East. As of March 31, 2019, BNP Paribas recorded €2.285 trillion in consolidated total assets, €783 billion in customer loans, €826 billion in deposits and €105 billion in shareholders' equity. It was established in 1848 and is headquartered at Boulevard des Italiens, Paris. As of August 9, 2019, BNP Paribas had a market capitalization of US$57 billion.

Credit Agricole

Credit Agricole Group is the second largest financial services group in France based on total assets. With over 139,000 employees and 11,000 branches worldwide, the Group serves over 50 million customers comprising 27 million retail customers in France. Credit Agricole is No.1 bancassurance group and asset manager in Europe, No.1 lender to the French economy as well as No.1 real estate investor in France. The Group includes 2,450 local banks and 39 regional banks.

Societe Generale

Founded in 1864, Societe Generale is the third biggest bank in France operating through about 2,750 domestic retail branches, Crédit du Nord and Boursorama Banque, a major online bank. It also has a presence in 38 countries with leading positions in Czech Republic, Romania, Russia, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Senegal. Headquartered in Paris, the company employs 149,000 people. As of April 30, 2019, SocGen had a market capitalization of US$26 billion.

BPCE

BPCE Group is a full service banking group with 7,800 branches, 30 million customers, 9 million cooperative shareholders and 106,000 employees. It operates through Banque Populaire banks, Caisses d’Epargne, Natixis, Credit Foncier, Banque Palatine and other subsidiaries. As of March 31, 2019, the Group had total assets of €1.31 trillion, loan outstandings of €495 billion and assets under management (AUM) of €882 billion including €27 billion in wealth management.

Credit Mutuel

Credit Mutuel (or Groupe Credit Mutuel) is one of the leading French banking institutions with 32.5 million customers, 82,000 employees, €397 billion in deposits and €467 billion in loans. The Group operates through five business segments: Retail Banking; Insurance; Corporate and Investment Banking; Asset Management and Private Banking; and other activities. Credit Mutuel - CM11 and Credit Mutuel Arkea are the main divisions of the Group.

La Banque Postale

La Banque Postale is a subsidiary of Le Groupe La Poste, the national postal service. The Bank serves over 11,000 million private and business customers through over 17,000 outlets. As of December 31, 2018, La Banque Postale recorded total assets of 245.2 billion euros.

HSBC France

HSBC France is the largest foreign bank in French market in terms of total assets. With about 10,000 employees and 900,000 clients, it is a universal financial services provider offering retail and commercial banking, investment banking, private banking, wealth management as well as support for institutional investors, large corporates, and governments. HSBC France is the seventh largest bank in the country with €39 billion in customer deposits, €45 billion in gross customer loans and €181 billion in assets. It operates as a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc, the largest UK financial services group.

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Top French Banks by total assets

The table below shows the largest banks in France according to their assets.

Rank Bank Total assets, €b Balance sheet
1 BNP Paribas 2,040.84 31.12.2018
2 Credit Agricole 1,854.76 31.12.2018
3 Societe Generale 1,309.43 31.12.2018
4 BPCE 1,273.93 31.12.2018
5 Credit Mutuel 852.564 31.12.2018
6 La Banque Postale 245.201 31.12.2018