chapter  Chapter 2
39 Pages

The commercial banking industry and its part in the emergence and consolidation of the corporate economy in Britain before 1940

WithPeter Wardley

During the interwar period a managerial transformation of the ‘Big Five’ banks was achieved which belies their popular reputation as holders of conservative and traditionalistic attitudes. The solitary bank office or the small scale banking organisations which developed as the initial steps taken on the road to extensive branch banking were already regarded as quaint historic novelties by the Edwardian period. The last word, perhaps should go to Keynes who demonstrated in 1927 a particularly percipient view of the future of banking organisation and mechanisation. Detailed descriptions of the technology and assessments of the various machines appeared in the banking journals, particularly in the autumn of 1929 when this was a ‘hot’ topic. One of the crucial tests for champions of the former proposition is the contrast between the British and German banking systems, which are held to exemplify the market-based and the bank-based financial systems, respectively.