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It’s an all GIRL affair!

In 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. We 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. It 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 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.

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Let 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. Having 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.

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The 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.

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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. She 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.

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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.

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Unit Trusts Footer

 

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Miss A M Wilson

On the Staff

1961

Miss W M Scoltock

On the Staff

1961

Miss M L Perks

Pro manager

1961

Miss C M Lewis

On the Staff

1961

Miss B L Edwards

On the Staff

1961

Miss D A Waters

On the Staff

1961

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BW Logo

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Miss P Hoar

On the Staff

1961

Miss W M cartwright

On the Staff

1961

Miss S D Kayes

On the Staff

1961

Miss D R Gardner

On the Staff

1961

Miss C Taylor

On the Staff

1961

 

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Title:

Type:

Address:

Telephone:

Hours:

 

Manager:

Martins Bank Unit Trusts Department

Trustee and Investment Department

80 Gracechurch Street London EC3

01 626 0616/7

Mon to Fri 1000-1500

No Saturday Service

Miss M L Perks Pro manager

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