Scotland Banks

Scotland has a long and distinguished history in banking, with the Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh opening its doors in 1695, only a year later than the Bank of England (itself started by a Scotsman, William Paterson). Today, Scotland hosts the headquarters of two of Europe’s top 10 banks: The Royal Bank of Scotland – the world’s fifth largest bank, and HBOS. It is also the headquarters location of Lloyds TSB Scotland and Clydesdale Bank (part of the National Australia Banking Group), bringing the total number of clearing banks headquartered in Scotland to four. Many other international banks also have operating bases in Scotland, and the sector continues to expand, with Scottish Widows starting its bank in 1995 and Standard Life Bank opening its doors for the first time in 1998.

Key facts and figures

Of Scottish Financial Enterprise’s banks and building societies members nine have their UK headquarters in Scotland (HSBC being the only exception).

Between them our member companies in this sector employ a workforce of over 47,000 in Scotland.

This equates to over two percent of the Scottish working population, demonstrating the significance of Scotland as a banking centre and the importance of the sector to the Scottish economy.

The global nature of the sector is reflected in the number of people our members employ around the world: over 170,000 staff in the rest of the UK, 46,000 in Continental Europe, 94,000 in the US, 60,000 (2005: 60,000) in Asia, and a further 67,000 throughout in the rest of the world, totaling over 487,000 worldwide. Seven of SFE’s banks and building societies member companies service their UK wide customer base from Scotland, with two entities servicing the entirety of their global client base from here.

Our banks and building societies undertake a diverse range of business activities from Scotland including (but not limited to):

  • Retail Banking
  • Corporate Banking
  • Treasury
  • Insurance services
  • Actuarial services
  • Consultancy services
  • Mortgage services
  • Investment management
  • Corporate finance
  • E Merchant broker

Key sector statistics for SFE member companies

Employment within Scotland


Employment outside Scotland


Funds managed in Scotland


Did you know?

In most countries it is only governments, through their central banks, that are permitted to issue currency. But in Scotland three banks are still allowed to issue banknotes, The Royal Bank of Scotland, HBOS and Clydesdale Bank. This practice dates back as far as 1695, and was started by the Bank of Scotland (which at the time enjoyed a monopoly over Scottish banking).

In 1875 the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland was founded as a professional and educational body, making it the world’s oldest professional body for practising bankers.

The Dunfermline Building Society was formed in 1869, which makes it the oldest building society in Scotland, as well as one of only two indigenous building societies.

The first mutual savings bank, the Ruthwell Savings Bank, was founded in 1810 Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland by the Reverend Henry Duncan. Find out more about this and other Scottish innovators by visiting what were they thinking?


  • Adam & Company Group plc
  • Bank of Scotland
  • Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland
  • Clydesdale Bank plc
  • Dunfermline Building Society
  • HSBC Bank plc
  • Lloyds TSB Scotland
  • Royal Bank of Scotland Group
  • Scottish Widows Bank
  • Standard Life Bank