Britain's banking sector is bigger than the commercial banking sector in any other EU country according to latest research issued by the British Bankers' Association (BBA).
The BBA's annual review, Banking Business, shows that the British banking sector has assets of over 5,000bn (£3,145bn), representing a fifth of all European banking assets.
Britain is also the largest centre in the world for cross-border bank lending, accounting for 21% of the world total. Earnings from services and investments contributed around £12bn to the UK's balance of payments – 40% of the net overseas earning of the whole financial services sector.
The research also shows that the pattern of demand from companies for bank finance has changed in recent years. Lending to manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers has risen only slightly over the last five years, while lending to construction and property companies has more than doubled.
Demand for bank finance from small businesses has changed pattern too. Overdraft borrowing has decreased as small businesses choose to structure their finance through term loans, but the BBA figures show that small businesses are also holding higher deposits.