Who Owns Whom in Banking?

We take a look at how bank brands are connected in the UK and who owns whom.

Updated: May 18, 2024
Ian Lewis

Written By

Ian Lewis

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It’s important to know which companies own which banks, and which ones share the same banking license. That’s because it has an impact on how much cover your funds have as part of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

If you have multiple bank accounts with different banks, you need to know which ones are linked, since this will impact how much you can claim if something was to go wrong and cause you to lose money with them.

How does the FSCS work?

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme is a free and independent service that covers any bank of building society authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). This service is funded by the financial services industry and offers a guaranteed compensation limit in the event that an organisation fails.

Customers don’t have endless cover. Instead, they are entitled to up to £85,000 per person, per deposit-license organisation. This means that if you have multiple accounts with one bank, you can only claim a total of £85,000 across those accounts – not for each sum. However, if it is a joint account, you can claim up to £170,000.

Where it gets a little more confusing is where banks share the same deposit license within a group. These are all classed as one organisation too, and so there is a chance that multiple banks could fail at the same time, and you could be limited in how much you can claim.

Which of the big banks are linked?

Things get a little more confused because there are some banks that are part of a much wider banking group, but that have separate deposit licenses. The main example is the Lloyds Banking Group, which consists of Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland among others.

Yet within these group banks, Lloyds Bank PLC and Bank of Scotland PLC (which includes Halifax) own separate deposit licenses. So, despite Lloyds Bank and Halifax being under the same umbrella group, if they both failed at the same time you could claim £85,000 from each.

A lot of the major UK high street banks and challenger banks are independent, such as NatWest and Starling. Monzo is pretty much independent although it does also provide the license for the business bank OakNorth.

HSBC PLC also owns First Direct, so anyone with an HSBC and a First Direct account should be aware that they could only claim £85,000 today from these accounts. Santander is similar as it has the main Santander bank and the digital offshoot Cahoot.

Barclays Bank has a couple of smaller brands under its umbrella, while Nationwide Building Society also owns three regional building societies in Cheshire, Derbyshire and Dunfermline.

It’s always worth checking to see whether any of your separate bank accounts are actually part of one linked group – if that’s the case you might want to consider opening a new account with a completely separate bank, just to guarantee your funds are safe if anything ever does go wrong and your main bank fails.

What about when I receive a large sum of money?

There are times in your life when you may receive a huge sum of money, and the bank failing at the wrong moment could seriously mess up your finances.

For that reason, the £85,000 limit for FSCS is extended to £1 million in the following specific circumstances:

  • When you’re in the process of buying or selling a house, and the funds are being transferred through your bank account.
  • When you receive a large insurance payment.
  • When you receive some form of financial compensation.
  • When you receive inheritance.
  • Redundancy payouts.

Providing you can prove that the funds you received were for one of these reasons, the FSCS will refund you up to the £1 million amount as it is termed a ‘temporary high balance’. Any money you receive above this won’t be refunded.

What happens if my bank fails?

If your bank fails, the FSCS aims to pay you the compensation you are due within 15 days at most – although most claims for banks or building societies are settled within 7 days. You won’t need to make a claim – the money is paid to you automatically.

If it’s an insurance company that has failed though, rather than a bank or building society, the FSCS will instead first try to get you seamless cover with another insurer.

You are not taxed on FSCS compensation, nor is there any fee involved when you receive a payout. You’ll keep 100% of the compensation awarded.

Full list of banks and owners

Here’s a full list of which banks are independent and which are ‘owned’ by another bank or plc.

A couple of important points to make – where we say ‘independent’ we are talking only in a UK sense. These organisations might be part of a wider global group that isn’t covered by the FSCS.

Also, when we say “owns” we refer to which organisation is the deposit license holder. Some of these groups will also be overseen by a larger group, but with separate deposit license holders for smaller sub-groups.

This is a pretty comprehensive list – to find your bank, use Ctrl + F to search and find yours to check who owns it.

Access Bank – independent

AgriBank plc – independent

Airdrie Saving Bank – independent

Al Rayan Bank – independent sharia-compliant bank

Aldermore – independent

AIB Group (UK) plc – owns Allied Irish Bank (GB) and First Trust Bank (NI)

Atom Bank – independent

Axis Bank – independent

Bank of Baroda – independent

Bank of China (UK) – independent

Bank of Cyprus (UK) – independent

Bank of Ireland UK plc – owns AA Financial Services, Post Office and Bank of Ireland UK

Bank of London & The Middle East – independent

Bank of Scotland plc – owns Aviva, Bank of Scotland, Birmingham Midshires, Halifax, and Intelligent Finance

Barclays Bank plc – owns Barclays Bank, Barclays Direct, and Standard Life Cash Savings

Bath Building Society – independent

Beverley Building Society – independent

Brown Shipley – independent

Buckinghamshire Building Society – independent

Cambridge Building Society – independent

Charity Bank – independent

Charter Savings Bank – independent

Chorley & District Building Society – independent

Citibank – independent

Close Savings – independent

Clydesdale Bank plc – owns Clydesdale Bank, Yorkshire Bank, Virgin Money, and B Bank

Coutts & Co – independent

Coventry Building Society – independent

Cumberland Building Society – independent

Cynergy Bank – independent

Danske Bank – independent

Darlington Building Society – independent

Dudley Building Society – independent

Earl Shilton Building Society – independent

Ecology Building Society – independent

FirstSave – independent

Ford Money – independent

Furness Building Society – independent

Gatehouse Bank – independent

GE Capital Direct – independent

Goldman Sachs International – owns Marcus by Goldman Sachs, and Saga

Habib Bank Zurich – independent

Hampshire Trust Bank – independent

Hanley Economic Building Society – independent

Harpenden Building Society – independent

Harrods Bank – independent

Hinckley & Rugby Building Society – independent

Hodge Bank – independent

Holmesdale Building Society – independent

HSBC Bank plc – owns First Direct and HSBC

ICICI Bank plc – independent

Ikano Bank – not covered by FSCS but covered by the Swedish Deposit Insurance Scheme, also up to £85,000 per person

Investec Bank plc – independent

Ipswich Building Society – independent

Islamic Bank of Britain – independent

Kent Reliance – independent

Leeds Building Society – independent

Leek United Building Society – independent

Lloyds Bank plc – owns Cheltenham & Gloucester, and Lloyds Bank

Loughborough Building Society – independent

Manchester Building Society – independent

Mansfield Building Society – independent

Market Harborough Building Society – independent

M&S Bank – independent

Marsden Building Society – independent

Masthaven Bank – independent

Melton Mowbray Building Society – independent

Metro Bank – independent

Monmouthshire Building Society – independent

Monzo Bank Limited – owns Monzo Bank and OakNorth Bank

N26 – independent but not covered by FSCS. Instead up to €100,000 is guaranteed by the European deposit guarantee scheme.

National Counties Building Society – also owns Family Building Society

National Savings & Investment – independent and separate to FSCS – 100% of your investment is protected

Nationwide Building Society – also owns Cheshire Building Society, Derbyshire Building Society and Dunfermline Building Society

NatWest – independent

Newbury Building Society – independent

Newcastle Building Society – independent

Nottingham Building Society – independent

Paragon Bank – independent

PCF Bank – independent

Penrith Building Society – independent

Principality Building Society – independent

Progressive Building Society – independent

Punjab National Bank – independent

Raphaels Bank – independent

RCI Bank – independent

Royal Bank of Scotland – also owns Adam and Company

Saffron Building Society – independent

Sainsbury’s Bank – independent

Santander UK plc – owns Cahoot, Cater Allen Private Bank and Santander

Scottish Building Society – independent

Scottish Widows Bank – independent

Secure Trust Bank – independent

Selftrade – independent

Shawbrook Bank Ltd – independent

Skipton Building Society – independent

Stafford Railway Building Society – independent

Starling Bank – independent

State Bank of India – independent

Swansea Building Society – independent

Tandem Bank – independent

Teachers Building Society – independent

Tesco Bank – independent

The Co-operative Bank plc – owns Britannia, Smile, and The Co-operative Bank

Tipton & Coseley Building Society – independent

Triodos Bank – independent

TSB – independent

Turkish Bank (UK) Ltd – independent

Ulster Bank – independent

United Bank of India – independent

United Bank UK – independent

United Trust Bank – independent

Vanquis Bank Ltd – independent

Vernon Building Society – independent

Weatherbys Bank Ltd – independent

Wesleyan Bank – independent                                                  

West Bromwich Building Society – independent

Wyelands Bank Plc – independent

Yorkshire Building Society – also owns Barnsley Building Society, Chelsea Building Society, and Norwich & Peterborough Building Society

Zenith Bank – independent

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