Barclays PLC is a long-storied financial institution with its roots dating back to two goldsmith bankers in the City of London in 1690. Founders John Freame and Thomas Gould were Quakers and instrumental in funding the exploration and colonization of the New World.
James Barclay, at the request of the founders’ sons, became a partner in the company in 1736 and it took his name shortly after. The company grew until 1896 when 12 of Britain’s largest banks joined forces to form a joint stock company called Barclay’s & Co. That entity existed until 1971 when it changed its name to Barclays Bank International. The company took on its iconic coat of arms featuring an eagle and three crowns was adopted in 1937.
Along the way, the company made many advances in modern banking including the world’s first cash dispensing machine. The machine was put in place in the Enfield Town branch and worked with a paper check system. Another was the adoption of “personal bankers” in the late 1970s, an innovation that has been copied across the financial industry, and the UK's first bank cards in the 1980s. Then, in 1985, Barclay’s began to merge some of its branches and the parent company became the holding company we know and trade today.
Today, Barclays is headquartered in London but has operations in more than 40 countries. The company is listed on the London Stock exchange and the New York Stock Exchange. It is a constituent of the FTSE 100 and the 5th largest bank in Europe. Following the 2008 financial crisis, it was deemed systemically important. The company employs more than 80,000 people and has more than 1.38 billion in total assets.
Barclays operates through two segments Barclays UK and Barclays International. The company is known as a Universal Bank and provides a full range of products and services for commercial and investment banking clients. Among the company’s many benefits are deposit-oriented retail banking, lending products, and credit cards, investment banking, wealth and investment management.
Barclays has made dozens of acquisitions over the decades of its existence. Among the most notable was the purchase of Lehman Brothers assets in 2008. The purchase was made in the wake of Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy and was seen as the only viable alternative. The move provided Barclays an in into the US market that it has since levered to great success. Barclays, in total, brought in more than $28 billion in fiscal 2022.