It’s an all-GIRL affair!
1961, Martins Bank Magazine reports on something quite remarkable for that
time, a department of the Bank run and staffed entirely by women. The
article “A visit to Unit Trusts”, which we reproduce below is definitely
of its own time, with what was then an honest appraisal of Unit Trusts
Department, but which by today’s standards seems more than old fashioned,
and certainly sexist.
must remember that women are still occupied in the hum drum 1950s world of
a girl getting married and surrendering her job, taking her husband’s name,
and working hard as a housewife. Many are content with the status quo, many
more are not.
is therefore refreshing to see that the late Margaret Perks, who has become
the first female appointed member of staff since the Second World War, has
worked very hard to get where she is, competing with male counterparts to
pass the necessary exams to allow for promotion. You can read more about
Margaret in our special feature HERE.
us say at the outset that the primary reason for featuring this department
in the Magazine was to do honour to Miss Margaret L. Perks, the first lady
in the Bank to receive a peacetime appointment.
Service: 1961 until 1969
Image © Barclays Ref 0030-1089
made the decision, it suddenly dawned on us that we and probably quite a
lot of other people were not very clear about the origin of the department
and what goes on in it. The idea of Unit Trusts started between the two
wars and is a scheme whereby the small investor, who knows little or
nothing about Stock Exchange securities and the art of investment, can take
up a unit or share in a trust which has invested its funds in a specified
list of securities, the income from which is used to pay the dividend on its
share units. A separate company is formed to manage the Trust which is set
up and must employ an independent trustee to hold the investments and so
the trustee departments of the various banks are approached by the
management companies to act in this capacity.
Image © Martins Bank Archive
Collections – Christine Lovett
work involved is considerable and is so specialised that it lends itself to
segregation in a particular department and so the Unit Trust Department was
formed. Now it is the Unit Trusts Department as more than one company uses
its services. Among the services which a trustee may perform are the
maintenance of a register of unit certificate holders and the units in
issue, receiving and delivering securities from and to brokers against
payment, retaining securities in safe custody, collecting dividends,
maintaining investment registers, checking the half-yearly distributions
and posting the warrants to the Unit holders, and the checking, signing and
issuing of certificates. In terms of staff, Miss Perks requires ten
full-time girls, as shown in the photograph, six part-time ladies and a
number of young men for periods of several weeks at certain times of the
year. There has been a great deal of unavoidable late work, involving the
staff in as much as three late nights per week for some time. Miss Perks
has to see that her department carries out all the complicated duties
enumerated, which is such a responsible job that it is indeed remarkable
that a young woman should by sheer merit have selected herself for it.
entered the Bank in 1940 at Ipswich and was transferred to Unit Trusts Department
in 1956. She rose to be the senior lady in 1958 and, following her success
in the examinations of the Institute of Bankers when she gained her Trustee
Diploma she was promoted to be in charge of the Unit Trusts Department,
with signing authority as Pro Manager, in December 1960. We first met her
when we visited Ipswich branch in 1950. She subsequently took part in the
Bank holiday parties to Cadenabbia in 1951 and to Davos in 1956, making
many friends by her friendly and unassuming personality. An interesting
feature of this all-female department is that the girls are encouraged to
dictate or write out their own letters for subsequent typing and one of
them, Miss D. R. Gardner, is shortly starting to tackle the Institute of
Bankers' examinations. Lest it be thought that it might be difficult for a
woman to maintain the necessary authority and discipline to run such a
department, we would like to say that it was obvious that her own girls are
rather proud of her and proud of the fact that collectively they can run a
department larger than many of our branches without male 'interference,'
except in so far as occasional casual outside labour is enlisted. She
certainly has the secret of managing staff. It is an experiment which the
Bank will now have no hesitation in repeating elsewhere when a likely
female candidate presents herself, for Margaret Perks has proved beyond
doubt that in certain fields women can compete with men on equal terms.