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Banks confront war: overcoming human and logistic challenges

This widespread financial decline does not, however, tell the full story. In the short-term during the war banks had to main- tain their business activities, adapt, react and innovate in order to cope with difficult conditions and new risks. The present ex- hibition covers this chapter in banking history. The departure of men to the front lines, the human losses, the enormous sums of money poured into the war, the destruction and occupation of ten French départements for a period of four years, and final- ly inflation disrupted the operating conditions of all banks, big and small. These challenges added up, often in unexpected ways. Accor- dingly, the combined effect of inflation and the growing success of the government s patriotic call for domestic savings caused an unprecedented increase in the number of securities tran- sactions carried out by banks for their depositors: sorting the bonds (everything was done on paper at the time), removing the coupons from the bonds, and swapping out the securities

Personnel file of Jeanne Cibert, Crédit Commercial de France, 1918.

Many women were recruited to replace male employees. Jeanne Cibert, left without resources due to her husband s mobilisation to the front, sought employment and was hired as a telephone operator.

HSBC France, Historical Archives Department, Collection of Crédit Commercial de France.