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UK Banking System

From HSBC Holdings to Coventry Building Society, the UK banking system is among the largest not only in Europe but also in the world.

Overview of the UK Banking System 

There are more than 45 building societies and 300 banks in the UK, making it the most extensive banking system in Europe and the fourth largest globally. The different branches of the UK banking system include:

High Street banks offer services to the general public. High Street banks provide business banking services in the UK in addition to ordinary accounts. They often include additional services and fees.

Financial institutions usually offer investment banking services on behalf of High Street banks, investment trusts, and pension funds. They invest money in stock and bond markets.

According to Moody’s, in October 2020, the outlook for banks in the UK is stable, reflecting the country’s intrinsic economic and institutional strengths and Moody’s expectations that the debt will stabilise at its current level.

The Top Banks in the UK are:

HSBC Holdings

Founded in 1880, HSBC is headquartered in London. The bank employs around 85,000 individuals (including subsidiaries). It operates through Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Commercial Banking, Global Banking and Markets, and Global Private Banking segments.

As of September 30, 2021, it manages 511 branches of banks in the UK and another eight branches in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

Net income: USD 5.23 billion (2020)
Total assets: USD 2.96 trillion (2020)

Barclay’s PLC

Barclay’s PLC was established in 1690. The bank provides retail banking, credit cards, wholesale banking, investment banking, wealth management, and investment management services. Headquartered in London, it employs around 83,000 staff.

Net income: GBP 2.38 billion (2020)
Total assets: GBP 1.38 trillion (3/2021)

Royal Bank of Scotland

Headquartered in Edinburgh, the Royal Bank of Scotland was founded in 1695. The bank employs around 27,000 individuals. It operates as one of the banks in the UK through Personal and Business Banking, Ulster Bank RoI, Commercial Banking, Private Banking, RBS International, NatWest Markets, Capital Resolution, Williams & Glyn, and Central Items and other segments.

Net income: GBP 913 million (2020)
Total assets: GBP 310.3 billion (2020)

Lloyds Banking Group

Established in 1695, Lloyds Banking Group is one of the oldest operating banks in the UK. Headquartered in London, the bank employs around 61,000 individuals. It provides banking and financial services under the Lloyds Bank, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, and Scottish Widows brands to individual and business customers in the UK and abroad.

Net income: GBP 1.32 billion (2020)
Total assets: GBP 869.50 billion (3/2021)

Standard Chartered PLC

Established in 1893, Standard Chartered PLC operates through Corporate and Institutional Banking, Retail Banking, Commercial Banking, and Private Banking segments. Headquartered in London, it employs around 82,000 staff. As of 2021, it operated 1,026 branches in the United Kingdom and 13 branches in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

Net income: USD 724 million (2020)
Total assets: USD 804.90 billion (3/2021)

Santander UK

Santander Bank was founded in 1988. The bank employs around 21,600 individuals. It operates through Retail Banking, Commercial Banking, and Global Corporate Banking segments.
Headquartered in London, Santander manages a network of 841 branches and 67 corporate business centres and operates through ATMs, telephony, digital, mobile, Internet, and intermediary channels.

Net income: GBP 452 million (2020)
Total assets: GBP 287.6 billion (3/2021)

Nationwide Building Society

Founded in 1846, the Nationwide Building Society operates through its Retail and Commercial segments. Headquartered in Swindon, the bank employs around 13,000 staff.

The bank provides current and savings accounts, ISA accounts, residential mortgages, commercial real estate loans, project finance, social housing, personal and car loans, home improvement loans, and loans to housing associations. It also offers protection and investment products, financial planning services, credit cards, current account overdrafts, treasury, liquidity, and discretionary services.

Net income: GBP 618 million (3/2021)
Total assets: GBP 254.91 billion (3/2021)


Headquartered in London, Schroders was created in 1804. The bank employs around 5,000 individuals. It operates through Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Commercial Banking, Global Banking and Markets, and Global Private Banking segments. It manages 41 offices in 27 countries in Europe, America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Net income: GBP 486 million (2020)
Total assets: GBP 574.4 billion (2020)

Close Brothers

Established in 1920, Close Brothers is headquartered in London. The bank employs over 3,000 staff. It operates through its Retail, Commercial, and Property divisions.

The Retail division provides intermediate financing to individuals through motor dealers, insurance brokers, and retailers. The Commercial division offers secured lending to the SME market. The Property division provides residential development financing to professional developers.

Net income: GBP 109.5 million (2020)
Total assets: GBP 11.1 billion (2020)

Coventry Building Society

Headquartered in London, Coventry Building Society provides a wide range of building and financial services. It offers financial planning services, mortgages, investment services, savings products, brokerage services, and insurance products such as travel insurance. The bank employs around 2,700 individuals.

Net income: GBP 101.4 million (2020)
Total assets: GBP 51.5 billion (2020)

Let us know in the comments box if you would like me to cover the top banks of any other country.

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Evita Astrid Veigas
3 min read

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