Barclays – over 300 years of Great British banking

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Headed by Chairman Sir David Walker and holding its head offices at One Churchill Place, London – Barclays is a diverse bank that deals with retail, investment banking and wealth management.

Still, many will primarily know it as being one of the UK’s largest providers in personal accounts, loans and mortgages.

Barclays Bank beside River Island in Altrincham, Greater Manchester

Founded in 1690 by James Barclay as a way for London’s goldsmiths to store their money, throughout their rich history they’ve made various innovations that have benefited the banking sector – they’re also renowned for being the first company to operate an automated cash machine in 1967.

Despite some slips in value recent times, the company is still estimated to be worth around £300 billion and Barclays still have hundreds of local branches located on high streets around the UK. Their main competitors in the British market are HSBC, NatWest and Santander, though Barclays dwarf most of them with an annual income of £1.3 billion – a figure that has largely stayed steady in the face of the financial crisis.

Barclays have also had their own share of controversy: as well as being complicit in the turmoil leading up to the credit crunch and recently being accused of tax avoidance, they have historically been linked to investments in apartheid-era South Africa and financially supporting the corrupt government in Zimbabwe. However, the bank still remains one of the most trusted and recognised in Britain, with millions of customers across the country who seem willing to forgive them for their past misdeeds.