Chapter

British Retail Banking in the Twentieth Century: Decline and Renaissance in Industrial Lending

Lucy Newton

in Business in Britain in the Twentieth Century

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780199226009
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191710315 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226009.003.0011
British Retail Banking in the Twentieth Century: Decline and Renaissance in Industrial Lending

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The ‘Big Five’ banks dominated British retail banking before 1939 and provided strength and stability in the financial sector. Yet after 1945, these institutions lost their dominance as providers of domestic financial services due to the severe restrictions placed on their lending activity by government regulation and increasing competition from non-bank financial institutions. It was only after 1970, and the lifting of such regulation, that British retail banks were able to flourish once again. Yet the banks have not been without criticism. They have been the subject of several government enquiries which have queried their levels of competition and efficiency and how well they served the needs of consumers and the British economy. Moreover, the global financial crisis starting in 2007 put British retail banks under severe strain and brought the question of performance and regulation to the fore.

Keywords: retail banking; Big Five; financial regulation; competition; efficiency; financial crisis

Chapter.  9193 words. 

Subjects: Business History

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