The history of personal and property security at Crédit Agricole
The history of security within Crédit Agricole S.A. reveals the changing risks faced by the company. While property security was initially the main concern, personal security rapidly became an important issue.
In the 19th century, banking institutions were mainly concerned with securing their property. The security of individuals was the responsibility of the state, particularly the armed forces and the police. In 1900, for instance, Crédit Lyonnais was among the first to establish a system to guarantee the security of its cash in transit. Cash transporters, then known as pèlerins (“pilgrims”), were equipped with secure pouches and followed very strict routes and instructions to reduce the risk of attacks and theft.
Secure pouch used by the Crédit Lyonnais “pilgrims”
A detailed plan of the route taken by the Crédit Lyonnais “pilgrims” in the Marseille region in 1900
Detailed description of the round followed by the Crédit Lyonnais “pilgrims” in the Marseille region in 1900
The First World War marked the first turning point in the development of personal and property security within banking institutions.
Crédit Agricole and Crédit Lyonnais, which had both been deeply affected by the war, realised the importance of guaranteeing their employees’ safety. Crédit Agricole took measures to address a potential new major conflict. At the end of the 1930s, the Caisse Nationale du Crédit Agricole (CNCA) built underground defensive bunkers at two sites in Paris (33 Rue Saint Dominique and 30 Rue Las Cases). These offered protection to 200 people against the impact of 500kg bombs. CNCA also acquired gas masks for staff in case of chemical attack. In August 1939, against a backdrop of extreme international tension, the Chief Executive Officer at the time, Charles Désigauz issued a memo to staff on what to do in the event of a bombing raid.
Defensive gas masks for CNCA employees  and plan of the second basement level of the bunker built beneath the CNCA building at 30 Rue Las Cases
For Crédit Agricole, the issue of personal and property security took on a new aspect from the 1960s. That period saw an increase in hold-ups and attacks on agencies, which then became the major concern in terms of security.
Security advice/Caisse Mutuelle d'Assurance against robberies from Crédit Agricole Mutuel banks (prod.); IFRAD (production department); Pierre Baugin (director); Pierre Louis (dialogue), .
It was also a period during which Crédit Agricole became aware of the need to guarantee employees’ safety at all times. Pierre Turin, then managing director of the Bouches-du-Rhône regional bank, noted in 1975 that: “Marketing principles do not always appear compatible with security requirements. It is important to reconcile them.”
In 1979, the Crédit Agricole group was the victim of 193 hold-ups, 14 attacks on cash in transit, 26 robberies and three attacks on cash machines. This was a danger to both employees and customers, leading Crédit Agricole to take new measures, such as strengthening security teams in branches, while training employees in these new risks by producing a number of films.
Security advice/Caisse Mutuelle d'Assurance against robberies from Crédit Agricole Mutuel banks (prod.); IFRAD (production department); Pierre Baugin (director); Pierre Louis (dialogue), ..
Changing security within the Group is also linked to the changing risks the company faces. The attacks of 1986, for example, led Crédit Agricole to introduce its first entry system using electronic badges.
From the 1990s, branches kept less and less cash and so became less exposed to hold-ups and attacks, which then moved to the cash transporters. The security of persons and property within the Group’s head offices and large sites then took on more importance with the emergence of new security systems and greater employee awareness of the various risks.
In 2004, the Group was awarded the Security Oscar for its efforts to establish an innovative security plan, led by Philippe Barsac, head of the “Security and Prevention” department responsible for the security of persons and property.
Magazine header, July-August 2004
Security is still a priority for the Group today, with an even greater desire to guarantee employees’ safety in their workplace.