is one of the largest banks in the UK and is the 25th largest company in the world. Barclays is based in Canary Wharf in London and has branches throughout the world. It was founded in 1690, and took the name Barclays when it took on a new partner in 1736. In the nineteenth century a number of large English provincial banks in places such as Norwich and the west of England united with Barclays and the bank in 1896 stopped being a partnership and became a joint stock company. It continued this expansion in the early years of the twentieth century.
As Barclay’s period of expansion coincided with a large British colonial presence around the world, Barclays
has from that point always had a strong presence in a large number of former British colonies. It is very strong in the Indian subcontinent in both India and Pakistan, and a large amount of its services are outsourced to India. It also has a large presence in both Africa and the West Indies. In other parts of the world it has operations in Portugal, France, Spain, Croatia and Russia. Overall Barclays is in fifty countries, it has 148,000 employees worldwide and 4,750 branches.
Its investment banking operation, Barclays Capital
is the largest wholesale operation of any of the high street British banks, and it recently merged with the American operations of the failed investment bank Lehman Brothers
. Barclays Wealth and Barclays Private Clients International make up its private banking arm, which offer bespoke advice to wealthy individuals. Barclays Global Investors is an investment management company that aims at wealthy individuals and families and has a presence around the world.
Barclays as a large bank offers the full range of banking services. They offer all types of insurance, including car, travel, home, life and health insurance. Barclays offers a number of current accounts, and is one of the most active banks in attempting to get customers to pay for current account banking by offering premium services. There is a large range of savings products, aimed both at long term and short term savers. There are also unsecured (personal) loans and secured (homeowner) loans along with financial planners and stockbrokers as part of its investment services offering with a strong selection of fixed income products. Barclays has tried very hard in recent years to cross sell services to existing clients.
Barclays was the first British bank to offer a credit card, the Barclaycard, which is now an international brand. Barclays also launched the first ATM in the world in 1967. It has 1,800 branches in the UK.
Barclays operates the Woolwich
brand as a specialist mortgage provider. Woolwich was a building society that demutualized in the 1990s and became a bank, later to be bought by Barclays. Woolwich offered mortgages particularly to the amateur landlord market, the buy to let market. Barclays also offers mortgages under their own brand and through their own branches. They offer secured and unsecured loans via the Post Office.
There is a strong commercial banking
division which aims at small and medium sized businesses offering products such as business loans, debt collection and foreign exchange management. They are a leading presence in the fast growing franchising sector. They sell themselves as a personal banking service for business owners, with a personally dedicated business bank manager, and free consultations with professionals, tax advice and legal advice.
Barclays has one of Britain’s strongest asset finance companies
, which lends against assets and at times buys back and leases assets such as company premises and company car fleets.
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