On April 18 in the year 1740, one of the most famous pioneers in the banking industry was born in Exeter, England. His name was Sir Francis Baring, 1st Baronet, founder of a company that became Baring Brothers & Co., the predecessor of Barings Bank.
Francis Baring came from a family of merchants. Although his father died when he was young, his strong-willed mother expanded the family business and sent him to London for his private education. Later, he began an expensive apprenticeship in two merchant houses.
In 1763, Francis Baring organized his own import and export commission agency with his brother John as a silent partner. Later, he became an importer and exporter himself in addition to being a distributor of commodities. He was appointed director of the British East India Company and became active in its management. By 1790, he already established himself as a leading financier and landowner in London, then emerging as the foremost trading center in Europe. Then he began to underwrite marine insurance and became active in the United States where he had established a strong presence as a financier. When Britain got involved in the French Revolutionary Wars (1792 – 1803), he was one of the chief financiers. For all his contributions to the British Empire, he was awarded the baronetcy in 1793. In 1806, the house of Barings was renamed Baring Brothers and Company. By then, he was already in semi-retirement.
Francis Baring died in 1810 at the age of 70. He had eleven children with wife Harriet. Barings Bank collapsed in 1995 after suffering losses of £827 million ($1.3 billion) arising from speculative investment conducted by a young employee named Nick Leeson working at its office in Singapore.