#FromtheArchives - Counting House Expenses

What did it cost to run a City of London merchant bank one hundred years ago? The Counting House Expenses in Barings' Annual Account Balances can help to answer this question.

In 1921 the total expenditure of the bank came to a grand total of £121,265 6s 4d. According to the Bank of England's inflation calculator that is equivalent to £6,070,599.39 in 2020.

Salaries were a major cost with a total spend of £56,690 11s 8d and staff were organised into divisions of "Clerks" and "Women Clerks." Women had been employed by Barings since 1873 when a small group of women joined to staff the Coupon Department. When combined with figures gathered from elsewhere in the archive the salary costs show that in 1921 a total of 69 male members of staff were being paid £36,611 (equivalent to £1,832,768.85 in 2020). This was around three times as much as the total figure of £13,877 paid to the 60 female clerks on staff (equivalent to £694,691.03 in 2020).

Other payments give an insight into Barings' international network. There are payments to partners "working away" in Argentina, America, Holland and Liverpool. Singled out for special mention was M Montes de Oca of Argentina. Could this be Manuel Augusto Montes de Oca Varela (1867-1934) who served as the Argentinian Minster of the Interior and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He would have been a useful correspondent for Barings.

Among the other expenses is a payment to an individual, Lieutenant General Yermoloff. At one time Yermoloff been the Military Attaché at the Imperial Russian Embassy in London. Files elsewhere in the archive record that he was a correspondent of Barings and that he provided them with weekly reports on the political and economic condition of Russia. Just one example of the wider stories that the records in the Baring Archive can reveal.

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Women working in the Coupon Department c1920
Women working in the Coupon Department c1920

Posted on Wednesday, 27th October 2021

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