The archetype of a sound provincial bank, Banque Adam serviced the Northern region of France for 170 years.
Founded in Boulogne-sur-Mer in 1766, Banque Adam started out as a company commissioning and transporting arms, before diversifying into banking operations. Most of the bank’s business was with the municipal authorities of Boulogne and other market towns in the region, and it also forged ties with the leading Paris bankers such as Jean-Frédéric Perregaux.
The bank’s financing activities covered the Northern region of France, but it also maintained links with commercial centres abroad, including Dover and London, which ensured it a place at the heart of the European trading world. It benefited inter alia from the impact of the Eden Treaty, a trade treaty signed by France and Great Britain in 1786, and the Treaty of Amiens, which temporarily ended hostilities between the French Republic and Great Britain in 1802.
At the service of Napoleon’s army
When plans to invade Great Britain took shape and Napoleon’s Grande Armée encamped on the North Sea coast, Banque Adam saw its business expand substantially. The bank became a trusted intermediary of the Parisian banks that were financing the military operations. Its main activity was at that time to ensure the provision of supplies to the Boulogne army camp. When the invasion plans were abandoned in the summer of 1805 this brought an end to Banque Adam’s most prosperous period, and it reverted to operating as a small provincial bank, playing an important local, or at most regional, role.
Post Great War expansion
During the First World War, the bank’s then president, Félix Adam, who was also mayor of Boulogne, received a national decoration for his devotion to his customers. During the reconstruction years, Banque Adam played a major role in the region’s economic recovery. Between 1927 and 1930 the bank considerably expanded its reach and became one of the top regional banks, with 168 branches across 11 of France’s 100 or so administrative ‘départements’.
Then in October 1930, financial and stock market difficulties at Banque Oustric, a bank with which Banque Adam was associated, led it to suspend payments and the bank was restructured in 1931. Banque Adam was eventually taken over by Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (BNCI) in 1937.