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Barclays CEO breaks with bank’s scandal-hit past

February 2013

Barclays chief executive Antony Jenkins has told the bank’s staff that they must adopt five new core values – respect, integrity, service, excellence and stewardship – or leave the business.

And in an uncompromising message contained in an email sent to every one of Barclays 140,000 employees worldwide, he also pledged to transform it into a trusted ‘go-to’ bank committed to behaving ethically.

Challenging those not prepared to sign up to the bank’s new culture, he wrote: “There might be some who don’t feel they can fully buy into an approach which so squarely links performance to the upholding of our values. My message to those people 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.”

Jenkins took the Barclays top job in August last year, succeeding Bob Diamond, who resigned after the bank was embroiled in the Libor rate-fixing scandal for which it was fined a total of £290m ($462, €346) by UK and US regulators. In addition, Barclays has set aside £2bn to cover the cost of mis-selling payment protection insurance and is contesting a £291m fine for alleged manipulation of the California energy trading market.

Jenkins’ move follows an extensive review of the entire business, which was led by the bank’s senior leadership group. It forms part of a repositioning that includes the introduction of the new Purpose & Values. Jenkins sees these as integral to a broad strategy that will guide the bank for the next ten years. There is speculation that this might involve scaling down the scandal-hit investment banking operation, with commodities trading cut altogether.

He said: “Over a period of almost 20 years, banking became too aggressive, too focused on the short-term, too disconnected from the needs of our customers and clients, and wider society. We were not immune at Barclays from these mistakes.

“Let me be quite clear. The notion that there must always be a choice between profits and a values-driven business is false. Barclays will only be a valuable business if it is a values-driven business. Unless we operate to the highest standards and our stakeholders trust us to behave with integrity, no business can continue to be successful. Nor do they deserve to be.

“There is no choice between integrity and profit in this business, and to pose them as opposites fundamentally misunderstands the problems the banking sector faces. This is the difference between generating short-term profits and long-term shareholder value.”

Given the response of staff to the review, Jenkins believes Barclays employees will largely welcome the changes, which he stressed represent a fundamental break with the past.

He said: “Having a firm commitment throughout the business to strong values is not something I want to do for public relations or political benefit. It is not window dressing. It is simply how I will run Barclays and make it a more valuable and sustainable institution.”




Barclays | Global | Business ethics

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