FTSE Russel Industry Classification Benchmark (ICB)

Industry Classification Benchmark is a hierarchical four-level system that classifies companies based on their main source of revenue. It is operated and managed by FTSE Russell, a subsidiary of London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG). It is currently one of the major classification systems for securities. This system has been in use since its release in 2005. It is globally recognized and used by some of the biggest financial institutions, such as: London Stock Exchange, NYSE Euronext and NASDAQ.

Get FTSE Russel Industry Classification Benchmark (ICB) correspondence tables

FTSE Russel Industry Classification Benchmark (ICB) crosswalk tables to over 50 different industry classifications.


Industry Classification Benchmark, otherwise known as ICB is a system that allows categorization and comparison of companies by their industry and sector, it is operated and managed by FTSE Russell, a wholly owned subsidiary of London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG).

The system provides the definition of 173 subsectors. Companies (and securities in general) are then assigned to a subsector based on their source of revenue or the majority of it. The revenue source is determined by “audited accounts and directors' report”.

ICB provides four levels of classification, as of 2021 they are divided into:

  • 11 industries
  • 20 supersectors
  • 45 sectors
  • 173 subsectors

The classification is hierarchical, in that each 8-digit subsector belongs to a 6-digit sector, each sector belongs to a 4-digit supersector, and each supersector belongs to an 2-digit industry. (For example, 45101020 - Soft Drinks is a subsector of 451010 - Beverages, which is a sector of 4510 - Food, Beverage and Tobacco that is a Supersector of 45 Consumer Staples Industry).

The table below shows the industries of The Industry Classification Benchmark and how many supersectors, sectors and subsectors they consist of:

Industry Code Description # of supersectors # of sectors # of subsectors
10 Technology 1 2 8
15 Telecommunications 1 2 3
20 Health Care 1 3 10
30 Financials 3 8 17
35 Real Estate 1 2 13
40 Consumer Discretionary 5 8 39
45 Consumer Staples 2 4 13
50 Industrials 2 7 38
55 Basic Materials 2 4 17
60 Energy 1 2 9
65 Utilities 1 3 6

This classification is globally recognized and widely used by various financial institutions, such as: London Stock Exchange, NYSE Euronext, NASDAQ QMX, STOXX and FTSE Russell indexes.

ICB is an alternative to The Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) developed by MSCI and Standard & Poor's. Both of them are globally recognized four-tier classification systems created to provide a uniform identifications for different industries.

Both ICB and GICS categorize companies based on their revenue sources. However, in the case of GICS “earnings and market perception (...) are also recognized as important and relevant information for classification purposes, and are taken into account during the annual review process” (source).

History & versions


The history of ICB classification dates back to 1962, when the initial version of the classification was developed for FT Actuaries All-Share Index (currently know as FTSE All-Share® Index). That original classification structure was later reviewed in 1970 and 1994.

In 1999 FTSE launched FTSE Global Classification System (GCS), a 3-tier industry classification system with 10 “Economic Groups”, 36 “Industry Sectors”, and 102 “Industry Subsectors”.

Legacy ICB

ICB was launched in 2005 by FTSE and Dow Jones, two of the world’s most leading index providers at the time. In 2011 Dow Jones divested its interest in the ICB, and FTSE became the sole owner of the system.

Legacy ICB was a 4-tier hierarchical classification with 10 industries, 19 supersectors, 41 sectors and 114 subsectors.

Enhanced ICB

In 2014 FTSE acquired Russell, with plans to integrate the Russell Global Sectors (RGS) classification with ICB. RGS is a 3-tier, hierarchical classification system with 9 Sectors, 33 Subsectors and 157 Industries.

The integration goal was accomplished in 2019, when FTSE Russell launched a new, enhanced version of the Industry Classification Benchmark.

Compared to the legacy ICB, the new ICB classification structure was expanded by 1 industry, 1 Supersector, 4 Sectors and 59 Sub-sectors.

The one new industry is Real Estate it also contains a Real Estate supersector alongside two new sectors and 13 sub-sectors.

The Telecommunications Industry was expanded by adding the Telecommunications Equipment Sector and Sub-Sector, as well as, Cable Television Services Subsector.

The new version of the Industry Classification Benchmark renamed Oil and Gas Industry to Energy.

It also implemented a new Consumer Discretionary and Consumer Staples Industry framework. Parts of the Consumer Goods Industry that existed in the legacy version of the ICB were moved to the new Consumer Staples Industry, while parts of the Consumer Services Industry were moved to the new Consumer Discretionary Industry.

Consumer Staples companies tend to continue to generate profits during periods of recession as they sell products and services that are considered necessities, while Consumer Discretionary companies tend to suffer more during recessions and have increased sensitivity to economic upswings.

Where is it used?

ICB is globally used by stock exchanges in order to categorize, research, classify companies and conduct global tracking and reporting.

This classification is used to classify approximately 100,000 securities worldwide. It provides a comprehensive data source for investment research, portfolio management and asset allocation. According to Investopedia, “security is a fungible, negotiable financial instrument that holds some type of monetary value.”

ICB Industries and Supersectors are used to construct investment funds , as the global scope of the classification framework allows for comparative analysis between sectors and industries worldwide as an investment decision-support tool.

Index providers use ICB to conduct index sector weightings, index attribution analysis and constructing sector indexes for passive investing.

It is also used by analysts and economists to follow market trends, conduct deep sector analysis and historical comparisons.

Different data providers use it for site mapping, list filtering and analytics.

Further resources

Download ICB

ICB conversion tables

Other resources