The Belgian banking sector has two important characteristics. First, banking is deemed an important part of Belgian culture with a relatively high number of bank offices in the country. In 2020, for example, the total number of offices of banks established in Belgium reached approximately 2,900 in the Flanders region. This is due to the fact that many banking offices in Belgium are managed by entrepreneurs who are not directly on the payroll of the bank itself. Consequently, the decrease of bank branches, which characterizes the financial sector in most European countries, happens at a slower rate.
Second, the Belgian banking landscape has the presence of several big non-Belgian banking concerns, notably Dutch bank ING and France-based BNP Paribas. In 2021, BNP Paribas Fortis reached a phased-in Common Equity Tier 1 (CET 1) ratio of approximately 18 percent.