Difference between Commercial Banking and Investment Banking

Key Difference: Commercial banks cater to the general public and provide services such as accepting deposits, providing loans and other basic investment products. Investment banks are financial institutions that assist individuals, corporations, and governments in raising financial capital by underwriting or acting as the client's agent in the issuance of securities (or both).

The functions of banks are often undermined by the general public. To the general public, banks are places where the salary is deposited and funds are withdrawn for usage. This is limited definition of the multibillion dollar banking sector. The banking sector is divided into two broad categories: Investment Banking and Retail/Commercial Banking. Both of these banks cater to different clientele and offer different services.

Commercial banking or retail banking is the bank that most general public are aware of. These banks cater to the general public and provide services such as accepting deposits, making business loans, and offering basic investment products. In some definitions banking can further be divided into commercial banking and retail banking. Retail banking includes banks that cater specifically to individual people, while commercial banks are not limited to providing only for the individual but can also cater to corporations.

In the US, commercial banks and retails banks fall under the same category and definition as this term specifically used distinguish these banks from investment banks because of the different banking regulations. Initially, commercial banks would also provide the benefits of investment banking, but it is believed that this heavily contributed to the Great Depression of the early 20th century. Following this the government required a separation between the functions of commercial banks and investment banks through the Glass-Steagall Act, which was repealed in the 1990s.

Investment banks are financial institutions that do not accept deposits, but rather assist  individuals, corporations, and governments in raising financial capital by underwriting or acting as the client's agent in the issuance of securities (or both). It can also offer services such as aiding mergers and acquisitions, market making, equity securities, launch IPO services, etc. Investment banks deter from normal banking objectives and cater to a different clientele. They offer services to mostly corporations, taking care of their financial needs. Investment banking is divided into two main function groups: buy side and sell side. The sell side deals with trading securities for cash or for other securities and other such functions. The buying side provides the provision of advice to institutions concerned with buying investment services, such as hedge funds, insurance companies, etc.

Comparison between Commercial Banking and Investment Banking:

 

Commercial Banking

Investment Banking

Definition

Commercial banks cater to the general public and provide services such as accepting deposits, providing loans and other basic investment products

Investment banks are financial institutions that assist individuals, corporations, and governments in raising financial capital by underwriting or acting as the client's agent in the issuance of securities (or both)

Core Functions

  • Accept various types of deposits
  • Provide loans and advances of various forms
  • Credit creation
  • To collect and clear cheque, dividends and interest warrant.
  • To make payments of rent, insurance premium, etc.
  • To deal in foreign exchange transactions.
  • To purchase and sell securities.
  • To act as trustee, attorney, correspondent and executor.
  • To accept tax proceeds and tax returns.
  • To provide safety locker facility to customers.
  • To provide money transfer facility.
  • To issue traveller's cheque.
  • To act as referees.
  • To accept various bills for payment: phone bills, gas bills, water bills, etc.
  • To provide merchant banking facility.
  • To provide various cards: credit cards, debit cards, smart cards, etc.
  • Underwriting security issuance
  • Initial public offerings (IPOs)
  • Secondary market offerings
  • Brokerage
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Securities research
  • Proprietary trading
  • Investment management
  • Sales and trading
  • Research
  • Risk Management

Features

Manage deposit accounts for individuals and corporations alike. Also, provide loans from money held on deposits

Raises funds for their clients through means such as: buying and selling stocks and dealing with IPOs

Risk Tolerance

Low

High

Day to Day Services

Yes

No

Loans

Yes

No

Takes Deposits

Yes

No

Type of Service

Standardized services for all

Bespoke service

Examples

  • State Bank of India
  • Indian Bank
  • ICICI
  • HDFC
  • Barclays Bank
  • Deutsche Bank
  • J.P. Morgan & Co.
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Citigroup

Image Courtesy: thenetfire.com, girlbanker.com

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