ABSTRACT

Banks, as we know them today, have developed from moneychangers into deposit takers. This development took place in the late Middle Ages in the Italian city states. A bank is a complex organisation with myriad levels of operation. Banks have also sought to offer clients of significant wealth tailor-made services, the purpose of which is to optimise their assets. The organisation of a bank through subsidiaries engenders the creation of a perimeter of companies, operating akin to planets orbiting within a solar system, where the planets represent the myriad subsidiaries and the sun the parent company. The universal bank contrasts with the banking group model where, conversely, a parent company owns several corporate entities and, accordingly, each corporate entity operates the specific banking business concerned. Historically, it has been claimed that the universal model of bank organisation was of an Anglo-American nature, whereas the second model is associated with Germany.