By the 1920s competition for customers was becoming more intense. Banks had previously focussed on attracting relatively well-off customers, but now they began to court smaller savers. They introduced ‘home safe’ accounts with special savings boxes aimed at children and other small savers who could only afford to save a few coins at a time. For many people, this was their first experience of dealing with a bank, and of having easy access to savings services.
The growing focus on small savers did not mean that the bank no longer cared about larger-scale interests. In 1939 The Royal Bank of Scotland bought the well-known London merchant bank Glyn, Mills & Co.
1939 also saw the outbreak of the Second World War. Just like the First World War a generation earlier, wartime meant many new problems and responsibilities for banks. In addition, many bank branches – particularly in Britain’s cities and larger towns – were damaged or destroyed by enemy bombs.