When banks follow closely women’s rights


Front cover of a BNCI brochure for married women - Around 1960 - BNP Paribas Historical Archives

For banks like for women, the law of July 13, 1965 is crucial. A new issue in the midst of bancarisation and societal developments is explicitly drawn. Women become a full clientele. In this context, the banks are launching unprecedented campaigns throughout France, addressing “modern women” directly.


Law, banks and women: when to open an account is possible for all

“The woman who is wise to simply her life has a bank account opened: this brochure published for you Madame will give you all the useful information for opening an account and using it.” We are at the beginning of 1960s and the Banque Nationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (BNCI) interpresses directly the female clientele of which the married woman is a member. The status of the latter is finally evolving. From 1965, a wife can become a single or widow a client like any other in the bank. The article 221 of the act of 13 July 1965 indicates: “Each spouse may be opened without the consent of the other a whole deposit account and any accounts of securities in his/her personal name.” Open a bank account for a married woman was therefore not obvious until 1960s.



Extrait de l'édition spéciale de la BNP destinée à la clientèle féminine, 1968 - Archives historiques BNP Paribas

Extract from the BNP special edition for women’s clientele, 1968 – BNP Paribas Historical Archives


When banks pay attention to societal developments

The banks therefore marry the societal developments of the post-war period. We are addressing both the gentleman and the ma’am. A real communication effort translates into a vast educational advertising campaign: we must let the “modern woman” know that the bank accompanies her in all these financial and banking procedures to facilitate her management of the family budget. It is time at the end of the 1960s for two reasons: the arrival on the labor market of new generations of young women born between 1942 and 1955 and the bancarisation of society. If the French were weakly bancarised in 1967 – only 15 to 18% of households hold a bank account – we see the rise in wage labor emerging from the bancarisation of society, that is, the equipment of households in financial services and products such as the use of the cheque account.



Première de couverture de l'édition spéciale intitulée La BNP et les Femmes diffusée en 1968 - Archives historiques de BNP Paribas

Front cover of the special edition entitled BNP and Women broadcast in 1968 – BNP Paribas Historical Archives



 When women represent a promising market for banks

Banks have understood this well, women are increasingly able to take spending initiatives and decisions from the law of July 13, 1965 in France. As a result, women’s clientele becomes a real target for banking institutions such as BNP, the Société Générale or the Crédit Lyonnais. At the European level and on a different temporality – from the early 1960s for Swedes until the mid-1970s for Italians, women represented an extremely promising market for banks. Women count. Born in 1966 from the merger of the BNCI and the CNEP, the BNP does not miss this news and makes it an objective. To know the women’s clientele well and meet or exceed their expectations.



BNP poster broadcast as part of the advertising campaign “C’est moi qui compte” in 1978 – BNP Paribas Historical Archives


BNP multiplies the initiatives: insertion of specific financial questions in the women’s magazine press, survey on family budget management, publication of a brochure entitled quotation marks “I am counting in three minutes a day”, … Until the organization of a round table with women selected by the agencies to hear what they think of it and to best adapt the services offered. As early as 1973, the bank even invested the specialized press for girls.


Finally, BNP, through its various advertising campaigns over the decades, focusses on the image of a bank that wants to be close to people, especially women. The BNP is there to facilitate the lives of those who hold the budget: “It is my BNP that takes care of my gas and electricity bills” or “Take care of the move, we will take care of the paperwork” are we reading on street posters in 1981. A new communication will appear from the 1990s when women become increasingly qualified, section department head or even head of a company. The banks will wonder about women’s banking financial expectations… but this is another story.


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    Since 1822, history has made us a key player and a witness of transformations taking place in society and economy in Europe and around the world. We invite you to share in our story and explore our archives to learn more about our constantly changing world.
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