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.
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|
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”.
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.
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.
- ICB (Current) - codes with descriptions - Excel
- ICB (legacy) - Manual (corporate brochure)
- ICB v3.6 (Current) - Manual
- ICB v2.6 (Legacy) - Manual
- Enhanced ICB - Manual
ICB conversion tables
- ICB Current to NAICS 2017 USA conversion table
- NAICS 2017 USA to ICB Current conversion table
- ICB Current to US SIC 1987 conversion table
- US SIC 1987 to ICB Current conversion table
- ICB Current to NACE Rev. 2 conversion table
- NACE Rev. 2 to ICB Current conversion table
- ICB Current to ANZSIC 2006 conversion table
- ANZSIC 2006 to ICB Current conversion table
- Other UK SIC 2007 conversion tables