After the war, British banks invested heavily overseas to keep up with their foreign competitors.
Lloyds Bank was already ahead of the game. In 1911 it had acquired the France-based private bank Armstrong & Co. Six years later, it went into partnership with National Provincial to expand its operations on the continent.
The photograph shows its branch in Geneva. Opened in 1920, it was the first British bank branch in Switzerland.
Lloyds also acquired significant interests outside Europe. In 1918, it gained control of the London & River Plate Bank. This was the oldest British bank in South America. And in 1923, with the takeover of Cox & Co., Lloyds inherited branches in India, Burma and Egypt.
In Scotland, moves into the foreign sector were driven largely by the Glasgow-based Union Bank of Scotland. In 1919 it set up a Foreign Department – the only Scottish bank to do so. That same year it led a coalition of eight banks in the formation of the British Overseas Bank. Its purpose was to 'facilitate the foreign trade of the British Isles and the Empire’.
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