The following video is part of our "Motley Fool Conversations" series, in which senior analyst Anand Chokkavelu, CFA, discusses topics around the investing world.

Here's a scary number: 8.7%. What is it? It's bad loan percentage for Spanish banks per the Bank of Spain (as of April).

To put that in perspective, Synovus, a U.S. bank I've warned against for its poor lending standards never hit that mark during the financial crisis. Looking at current numbers, Synovus stands at 4.3%. Going to larger U.S. banks with histories of bad lending standards, Citigroup is at 1.8% and Bank of America 3.0%.

Looking at individual big Spanish banks, the bad debt picture is better than 8.7%, but still scary: BBVA is at 4.4% and Banco Santader is at 4.3%.

Check out the following video for Anand's thoughts.

With so many of the big finance firms getting bad press these days, you may be inclined to stay away from the sector entirely, but that could be a mistake. In fact some of the best opportunities over the next few years can be found there, including one small, under-the-radar bank. It’s been called one of The Stocks Only the Smartest Investors Are Buying. You can learn about it, and more, in our exclusive free report. Just click here to keep reading

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.