Thursday, 4 October 2018

440 The Strand

Yesterday Sue and I attended a reception at Coutts and Company's Head Office at 440, The Strand, in central London.

We were invited because I have been a customer of the bank for over fifty years, having opened my account on the first day I started work there in 1968. I worked for them until late 1970, when I resigned and went to Teacher Training College in Bishop's Stortford, Herfordshire.

Even though I was not particularly well off during my time at college and during the early years of my teaching career, I kept my account with the bank and will continue to do so for as long as I can afford it. Needless to say, I have never earned enough money to benefit from the excellent wealth management services they provide, but I enjoyed my time working there and keeping my account with them is a constant reminder of that. In the three years I was there, I turned from a schoolboy into a man. I learned how to work to deadlines (something some of my fellow students never, ever got to grips with!) and take responsibility for making things happen. My school had provided me with the basic skills; Coutts gave me the opportunity to hone them.

When I joined the bank in 1968, I was first sent to the Aldermanbury Square branch in the City. This was situated at the bottom of Royex House on the south side of London Wall, in the midst of the then-new Barbican development. After a few weeks I was sent to Head Office for a six-week induction course, where I learned a lot (and I mean A LOT!) about the sort of people who banked with Coutts ... and how to write letters to them. Knowing the difference between how to address an Archbishop and a Bishop, a Duke and a Viscount, and the difference between a Knight Baronet and a Knight Batchelor seemed to feature highly on the syllabus. I also got to visit the automated cheque clearance system that was housed in the Lombard Street office (it was a very early form of computer that sorted and recorded cheques submitted to the London Clearing House by using the magnetic characters printed along the bottom edge of the cheque) which proved very useful as I later worked in the Clearing Department of the Aldermanbury Square branch.

I also visited other branches of the bank, including those in Fleet Street, Cadogan Square, Sloane Square, and Knightsbridge, and took my turn as a teller on the front counter, usually at busy times when there were a lot of customers who needed serving. I enjoyed my time working as a banker, and had I not left to become a teacher, I may well have risen to hold a senior post in the bank.


  1. Hi Bob,

    I had no idea you worked in financial services and for Coutts of all people! I used to run a pub just of John Adam Street in the early 1990s and the Coutts crowd were regular visitors.

    A 6 week induction? That must have been very interesting given the subject matter you mentioned.

    All the best,


    1. David Crook,

      This is a day fir surprises. I never knew that you had been a publican!

      I decided to go to work after my A Levels, and applied to several banks. Coutts were the first to offer me an interview, and I accepted.

      We were a mixed intake, with most of us being Grammar School pupils with the odd couple of Old Etonians included in the mix. The induction included learning about the history of the bank, about its customers (who seemed to be either impoverished aristocrats or nouveau riche millionaires with a number of major financial and charitable institutions), and visiting the main departments in Head Office and the City.

      All the best,