HomeFinance11 Investment Banks London & their History

    11 Investment Banks London & their History

    The UK is the world’s highest net exporter of financial services and London, next to New York, is the world’s financial capital as per Investopedia.

    In the City of London, London’s financial district, commerce flourished and its ports drew merchants and entrepreneurs from many nations.

    Some of those merchants went into banking and developed the sector. The Bank of England began as a private corporation started by merchants in 1694.

    What Are Investment Banks?

    Investment banks are major financial institutions that handle large transactions, raise funds, facilitate mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and provide other specialist services. For example: If a company wanted to sell bonds of £8 billion, it would approach an investment bank.

    How Do Investment Banks Work?

    They offer intermediary services to large corporations, hedge funds, pension funds, and governments. They are different from retail banks as they provide services like asset management, sales & trading, M&A, and underwriting.

    Investment banks assist with the initial public offering (IPO), the bank examines a business’s financial assets, offers advice post-IPO, and assists with drafting a prospectus.

    How Do They Make Money?

    Investment banks charge a percentage per transaction, collect interest on money raised, and charge a fixed rate per investment transaction.

    Besides these, the following activities typically make money for an investment bank:

    • Helping companies launch an initial IPO.
    • Engaging in proprietary trading.
    • Insuring bonds for businesses.
    • Issuance of bonds to raise a company’s debt capital.

    What are the most renowned London Investment Banks & their Significance?

    Below we explore the top eleven banks with strong London ties and shine a light on their history in the city. We’ve ranked them from highest to lowest based on their net assets.

    Disclaimer: all the information provided was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change. 

    1. HSBC Holdings


    Headquarters: London, United Kingdom

    Founded: 1865

    Their London Story:

    Founded in Hong Kong and Shanghai, HSBC later moved its headquarters to London. Today, it’s one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations. It also holds a global reputation with a strong presence across 67 countries and 3,900 offices. HSBC is renowned for its diverse range of banking services.

    Net assets: £1,936 billion

    Services offered:

    • Global Banking Services
    • Global Private Banking
    • Commercial Banking
    • Retail Banking
    • Cross-Border Lending

    Why Choose HSBC Holdings?

    1. Extensive international presence provides businesses with access to diverse markets and cross-border opportunities.
    2. HSBC’s strong trade finance capabilities assist businesses in navigating complex global trade transactions.
    3. Advanced risk management solutions help businesses mitigate financial uncertainties across regions.
    4. HSBC’s cross-border lending expertise supports businesses in expanding their operations across geographies.
    5. HSBC’s commitment to technological innovation ensures businesses have access to cutting-edge financial solutions.

    Customer Base: 39 million customers

    Official website

    2. Barclays


    Headquarters: London, United Kingdom

    Founded: 1690

    Their London Story:

    Founded in the city of London in 1690, it’s one of the UK’s major banks and has its global headquarters in the capital. It began its journey as a goldsmith banking business but now has evolved into a global bank with operations in over 40 countries. It is known for its innovation and wide-ranging services. And with that, it continues to be a major player in the UK financial sector.

    Net assets: £1,203 billion 

    Services offered:

    • Wealth Management
    • Corporate and Personal Banking
    • Insurance Services
    • Investment Banking
    • Global Operations (40+ Countries)

    Why Choose Barclays? 

    1. Barclays’ strong investment banking division provides businesses with tailored strategies and insights.
    2. An extensive international network enables businesses to access diverse investment markets worldwide.
    3. Barclays’ innovation-driven approach offers businesses advanced digital tools for investment analysis.
    4. A wide range of financing options empowers businesses to fund growth and investment projects.
    5. Barclays’ advisory services guide businesses through complex investment decisions and strategic moves.

    Customer Base: 48 million customers

    Official website

    3. Royal Bank of Scotland Grouproyal-bank-of-scotland-group

    Headquarters: Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

    Founded: 1727

    Their London Story:

    The Royal Bank of Scotland is now known as NatWest Group, after its major subsidiary. Though it’s Scottish by origin, it has a significant operational footprint in London, and its origins date back to 1700. Since then the bank has established itself as a prominent financial institution. Not just in the UK, but operating internationally as well. It offers a range of services from personal and business banking to insurance and corporate finance.

    Net assets: £783 billion

    Services offered:

    • Personal and Business Banking
    • Insurance Services
    • Corporate Finance
    • Issuance of Banknotes (Northern Ireland and Scotland)
    • International Operations

    Why Choose Royal Bank of Scotland Group?

    1. A deep understanding of regional markets assists businesses in capitalizing on local investment opportunities.
    2. RBS offers comprehensive financial solutions, integrating banking, insurance, and corporate finance services.
    3. The global network facilitates international transactions and cross-border investment initiatives.
    4. RBS’s commitment to innovation equips businesses with cutting-edge tools for efficient investment management.
    5. RBS’s long history and reputation in the industry build trust and reliability. This is a must for businesses seeking investment solutions.

    Customer Base: 30 million customers

    Official website

    4. Lloyds Banking Group


    Headquarters: London, United Kingdom

    Founded: 2009

    Their London Story:

    Lloyds Bank was founded in Birmingham but has a significant presence in London. Its headquarters is now in the capital. Formed from the merger of HBOS and Lloyds TSB, Lloyds Banking Group has been serving the UK since 2009. However, they have a rich history spanning over a century. The group is involved in retail, commercial banking, insurance, and consumer finance.

    Net assets: £817 billion

    Services offered:

    • Retail Banking
    • Commercial Banking
    • Insurance Services
    • Consumer Finance
    • Wealth Management

    Why Choose Lloyds Banking Group?

    1. Tailored expertise for various industries empowers businesses to make informed investment decisions.
    2. Lloyds offers a range of advisory services to guide businesses through strategic growth phases.
    3. The bank’s commitment to sustainable finance aligns with businesses seeking responsible investment options.
    4. Lloyds’ digital banking tools enhance efficiency and provide real-time insights for investment strategies.
    5. A collaborative approach fosters strong relationships. This enables Lloyds to understand and meet businesses’ unique needs.

    Customer Base: 30 million customers

    Official website

    5. Standard Chartered


    Headquarters: London, United Kingdom

    Founded: 1969

    Their London Story:

    While Standard Chartered mainly operates in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, its headquarters is in London. And even without offering retail banking services in the UK, it has been a significant player in the UK banking scene.

    Net assets: £526 billion

    Services offered:

    • Corporate and Institutional Banking
    • Wholesale Banking
    • Financial Services in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East
    • Trade Finance
    • Cross-Border Transactions

    Why Choose Standard Chartered?

    1. Expertise in emerging markets gives businesses access to high-growth investment opportunities.
    2. Seamless integration of trade and investment services supports cross-border business expansion.
    3. Standard Chartered’s ESG-focused investment solutions align with businesses’ sustainability goals.
    4. Advanced digital platforms enable businesses to manage investments and transactions efficiently.
    5. Standard Chartered’s global network assists multinational businesses in navigating diverse investment landscapes.

    Customer Base: Over 1,000 corporate and institutional clients

    Official website

    6. Santander UK


    Headquarters: London, United Kingdom

    Founded: 1988

    Their London Story:

    A subsidiary of the Spanish banking giant Banco Santander, Santander UK was established when the parent company acquired various former building societies in the UK. It has a strong retail banking presence in London and across the UK. They have over 800 branches and a variety of banking services. And that’s why it has become a familiar presence in the UK banking industry.

    Net assets: £280 billion

    Services offered:

    • Commercial Banking Services
    • Corporate Banking Services
    • Retail Banking Services
    • Mobile Banking
    • Online Banking

    Why Choose Santander UK?

    1. Santander’s customised investment strategies align with businesses’ financial goals and objectives.
    2. The bank has international expertise. This assists businesses in expanding globally and managing cross-border investments.
    3. Santander’s digital platforms offer businesses real-time access to investment portfolios and insights.
    4. A comprehensive suite of financial services supports businesses’ end-to-end financial needs.
    5. Santander’s network provides businesses with access to potential partners, clients, and investment opportunities.

    Customer Base: 25 million customers

    Official website

    7. Bank of Irelandbank-of-ireland

    Headquarters: Dublin, Ireland

    Founded: 1783

    Their London Story:

    While the Bank of Ireland is, by origin, an Irish bank, it has operations in the UK. The Bank of Ireland UK plc is a subsidiary that provides financial services in Great Britain. It has a presence in London, primarily catering to the business market.

    Net assets: €151 billion

    Services offered:

    • Checking and deposit services
    • Overdrafts and term loans
    • Mortgages and international asset financing
    • Leasing and installment credit
    • Debt financing and foreign exchange facilities
    • Interest and exchange rate hedging instruments

    Why Choose the Bank of Ireland?

    1. With a history tracing back to 1783, the Bank of Ireland offers a wealth of experience and a proven track record in the financial industry that businesses can trust.
    2. Bank of Ireland provides an extensive range of financial solutions, tailored to both individual and business requirements, ensuring that all aspects of your financial needs are covered under one roof.
    3. Operating not just in Ireland but also in Northern Ireland, Great Britain, and various international locations, Bank of Ireland’s expansive footprint means it can facilitate your business’s financial needs wherever you operate.
    4. As one of the distinguished Big Four Irish banks, the Bank of Ireland is known for its steadfastness and stability, offering businesses the peace of mind that comes with a reliable banking partner.
    5. Bank of Ireland’s diverse service portfolio spans from asset financing and mortgages to foreign exchange services, showcasing its versatile financial expertise that can support your business growth and innovation.

    Customer Base: 300,000-strong active customer base

    Official website

    8. Metro Bank


    Headquarters: London, United Kingdom

    Founded: 2010

    Their London Story:

    Founded in 2010, Metro Bank was the first new high-street bank in the UK for over 150 years. It launched with a branch in Holborn, London, and has focused on building a physical branch network in London and the South East. The bank operates with a focus on providing a range of financial services to both personal and business customers.

    Net assets: £21,647.0 million

    Services offered:

    • Credit cards
    • Consumer banking
    • Corporate banking

    Why Choose Metro Bank?

    1. As the first new high street bank in the UK in decades, Metro Bank offers a fresh and innovative approach to banking services.
    2. With a goal of establishing 200 UK branches by 2020, Metro Bank provides convenient access to its services for customers.
    3. Metro Bank caters to various needs with its range of services, including credit cards, consumer banking, and corporate banking.
    4. The bank’s customer-centric approach aims to provide a personalized and responsive experience to its clients.
    5. Led by experienced individuals like Chairman Sir Michael Snyder and CEO Daniel Frumkin, Metro Bank is guided by a capable management team.

    Customer Base: 2.6 million customer

    Official website

    9. Close Brothers

    Headquarters: London, United Kingdom

    close-brothersFounded: 1878

    Their London Story:

    Established in 1878, Close Brothers Group plc is a leading UK merchant banking group providing lending, deposit-taking, wealth management services, and securities trading. Its headquarters is in London. Close Brothers has been a longstanding player in the UK banking sector. They are known for their property, commercial, and retail divisions. In their centuries of operation, the bank has built a strong reputation for its financing and lending services.

    Net assets: £8.11 billion

    Services offered:

    • Financing for Individuals
    • Financing for Insurance Companies
    • Financing for Retailers
    • Financing for Car Dealers
    • Property Financing

    Why Choose Close Brothers?

    1. Close Brothers’ sector-focused approach tailors investment solutions to businesses’ specific industries.
    2. The bank’s personalised advisory fosters strong relationships, allowing for customised investment strategies.
    3. They have a specialisation in small and medium-sized enterprises. This ensures a deep understanding of their investment needs.
    4. Close Brothers’ flexible financing options accommodate businesses’ unique investment situations and growth plans.
    5. They have dedicated relationship managers. These relationship managers provide businesses with ongoing guidance and investment insights.

    Customer Base: 260,000 customers in the UK and Ireland

    Official website

    10. Starling Bank


    Headquarters: London, UK

    Founded: 2014

    Their London Story:

    Starling Bank is an app-based challenger bank founded in 2014 by Anne Boden. It’s headquartered in London and has been recognized for its innovative approach to banking.

    Net assets: £453 million

    Services offered:

    • Personal Current Accounts
    • Joint Accounts
    • Business Accounts
    • Euro Accounts

    Why Choose Starling Bank?

    1. Starling Bank leverages advanced technology to provide seamless and convenient banking experiences for London businesses.
    2. As the first challenger bank to achieve consecutive years of profitability, Starling offers financial stability and growth opportunities.
    3. With a range of personal and business accounts, including Euro accounts, Starling Bank tailors its offerings to varied financial needs.
    4. Starling’s mobile app empowers London businesses with instant notifications, secure transactions, and real-time insights.
    5. Recognized as the Best British Bank for five consecutive years, Starling Bank’s excellence stands as a testament to its commitment to customer satisfaction.

    Customer Base: Over 2.7 million customers and 350,000+ small to medium-sized businesses

    Official website

    11. Schroders


    Headquarters: London, United Kingdom

    Founded: 1804 

    Their London Story:

    Founded in London in 1804, Schroders is a global asset and wealth management company. It’s one of the UK’s largest and oldest independent asset managers. Schroders has operations spread across different continents. These include Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. With that, the bank has earned its place among the UK’s financial powerhouses.

    Net assets: £19 billion

    Services offered:

    • Wealth Management
    • Retail Banking Services
    • Commercial Banking Services
    • Asset Management
    • Investment Services

    Why Choose Schroders?

    1. Schroders’ wealth management division offers businesses expert guidance for optimal investment decisions.
    2. Their global presence provides businesses access to diverse investment opportunities worldwide.
    3. Comprehensive research and insights empower businesses with data-driven investment strategies.
    4. Schroders’ customised investment solutions cater to businesses’ risk tolerance and financial goals.
    5. Schroders’ focus on long-term investment objectives aligns with businesses’ sustainable growth strategies.

    Customer Base: Not available

    Official website

    What Next?

    Hopefully this investment banks in London overview will provide you with insights into London as a finance hub and its meaningful history.

    It may help you choose an investment bank as well, because you’d want to only trust established banks with your money.

    If you want us to add a suggestion here based on your experience, please get in touch with us!

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    Manuela Willbold
    Manuela WillboldOnline Media & PR Strategist
    Blogger and Educator by Passion | Senior Online Media & PR Strategist at ClickDo Ltd. | Contributor to many Education, Business & Lifestyle Blogs in the United Kingdom & Germany | Summer Course Student at the London School of Journalism and Course Instructor at the SeekaHost University.
    Manuela Willbold
    Manuela Willbold
    Blogger and Educator by Passion | Senior Online Media & PR Strategist at ClickDo Ltd. | Contributor to many Education, Business & Lifestyle Blogs in the United Kingdom & Germany | Summer Course Student at the London School of Journalism and Course Instructor at the SeekaHost University.

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