Spanish banking system is considered one of the healthiest in Europe. Two groups dominate the banking sector: Banco Santander and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), accounting for approximately 40% of the sector’s total assets. This group is followed by the savings banks La Caixa and Caja Madrid, while commercial bank Banco Popular ranks fifth.
The introduction of a single currency in Europe reduced the activity of the branches of foreign banks, mainly engaged in inter-bank business. The activity of some of the remaining banks also diminished as a result of the concentration of their treasury operations in other European financial centers.
Over the past two years, even though the number of bank branches has been decreasing, there has been an increase in the total number of employees. In 2006 there were approximately 16,027 offices employing 110,000 people and in 2007 there were 15,542 branch offices providing employment to 117,071 people.
2007 was an excellent year for the Spanish banking sector. Even though the subprime crisis affected many multinational banks directly, Spanish financial entities were not as adversely impacted allowing them to continue expanding their services. The Spanish banking sector has felt the subprime crisis especially in their stock value, which has decreased in 2008.
By Carmen Ribera