Blog

Even St Anthony Can’t Change the Culture at Barclays

Michael Albanese

10th March 2014

In 2012 Anthony Jenkins (nicknamed “Saint Anthony”) succeeded Bob Diamond and promised to clean up Barclays and eradicate the worst excesses of the banking industry.

Speaking to those who received huge bonuses for unscrupulous behaviour, he said:

“my message is simple: Barclays is not the place for you. The rules have changed. You won’t feel comfortable at Barclays and, to be frank, we won’t feel comfortable with you as colleagues”.

Despite this, profit dropping 32% to £5.2bn, and making 3,700 jobs cuts last year:

  • Jenkin’s himself pocketed just under £5m in shares
  • Staff paid over £1m increased from 428 to 481.
  • The bonus pool increased 10% to 2.4b

The justification for this? Many senior traders have left, or threatened to do so, and to keep hold of the top earners, he had to offer top pay. Had he not, the investment wing of Barclays would have plunged into a “death spiral”, with staff and high-value customers going elsewhere.

This is part of the bigger issue regarding European Commission’s rule to reduce banking bonuses, how George Osborne is fighting the decision and why, it would seem, he really didn’t need to as bosses of RBS (81% owned by tax payers) and HSBC also side-stepped the rule by giving large “fixed pay allowances” in the form of shares.

This story always provides great impetus for emotive debate on topics such as government intervention, culture, pay and leadership.

Michael Albanese

Assistant Curriculum Lead for Business and Law at Solihull Sixth Form College

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