Coutts & Co Bankers

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Hello and hi. It is highly unlikely that you will ever have an account at Coutts. But maybe you will-I just don’t know. I certainly do not have an account at Coutts-that I do know. Yes, yes I do. Do you know much about Coutts? Well today you will know more about Coutts than you did yesterday. You are welcome.

Coutts is a private bank and wealth manager-founded in 1692. It is the seventh oldest bank in the world and its International arm was recently sold to Union Bancaire Privee. It is owned by RBS (The Royal Bank of Scotland Group) since 2000-when RBS purchased its parent, NatWest. Yawn. Anyway, Coutts formed part of RBS’s private banking division. During its time with RBS-it acquired Zuruch-based Bank von Ernst &Cie. Big yawn and stretch. There is more regarding the financial history and which banks acquired Coutts… but just know that in 2011, RBS Coutts was renamed Coutts & Co.Limited.

History

The bank which was to become Coutts &Co, was originally a goldsmith-banker’s shop. It was formed in 1692 by a young Scots goldsmith-banker, John Campbell of Lundie, Scotland. He set up a business in London under a sign of the Three Crowns (as was customary in the days before street numbers). The Coutts logo today still has the three crowns with its headquarters still in London.

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Campbell died in 1712, leaving the business to members of his family. Although it was George Middleton (probably related to our Kate) who had become Campbell’s partner in 1708-it was during Middleton’s stewardship, that the bank was able to withstand one crisis after another. For example, The Jacobite revolution of 1715 threatened the stability of the banking system. Other stuff happened too but thankfully, stability for the bank returned in 1735. John’s son, George Campbell was also a partner and he became sole partner after the death of Middleton in 1747, after which the bank was renamed the “Bankers of 59 Strand.” In 1735, John’s Campbell’s granddaughter married merchant and banker, James Coutts. The bank became known as Campbell &Coutts. The rest is banking history, as they say.

Clients

Coutts most notable clients includes members of the Royal family. The Queen banks there. As does William and our Kate. In fact, until the 20th century it was a clearing bank to the nobility and landed gentry (oh please let me be landed gentry in my next life. Landed gentry refers to a historical British social class-consisting of land owners who live entirely from their rental income. It refers exclusively to members of the upperclass who were landlords.) Today the clients of Coutts, in addition to the royal family includes: entrepeneurs, entertainers, sportsmen, professonals and executives. And a certain American blogger. I kid.

There are extremely stringent requirements to being accepted as a client-and not just based on average and total financial assets. Prospective clients need at least £1,000,000,000 in investable assets (not including real estate), they must have a good sense of humour, wear brougues and wear matching socks at all times. So, as you can see-I will never be a client…my socks NEVER match. Truth. In brief, Coutts is viewed as a bank for the rich and famous of British society. Like all banks, it is pretty secretive about its client list.

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Malpractice

  • Breaches of money laundering rules

In March 2013, Coutts was fined £8.75m for breaches of money laundering rules after 3 years of ‘serious’ and ‘systemic’ problems in handing affairs of customers vulnerable to corruption because of their political links. Yikes. Aint nobody got time for that. As a result, the FSA (Financial Services Authority) fined Coutts becauuse of an “unacceptable risk” that the bank could have been handling the proceeds of crime for a 3 year perioud after failing to properly deal with customers classifed as “politically exposed persons.” I do wonder if all of their assets were exposed as well? Please know that I am talking about money here, as my parents read this blog. Yup.

  • Mis-selling of AIG savings product

In November 2011 the FSA fined Coutts £6.3m for mis-selling the American International Group (AIG) Enhanced Variable Rate Fund between 2003-2008. The FSA forced Coutts to compensate ALL customers who suffered a loss as a result of its failings in selling AIG Life Premier Bonds. Later Coutts agreed to settle at an early stage in exchange for a 30% discount on its fine which would have otherwise been £9m. My goodness, do you see why people choose to put money under their mattresses? Much safer there, in my opinion.

So now you know everything about a bank you will NEVER have an account with. But hey, this post was informative-right? Of course it was. Thanks for reading.

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Cheers

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