News Column

Barclays Needs a Good Shaking, Plus Pay Cuts: Report

April 3, 2013

Simon English, London Evening Standard

An internal review into the way Barclays does business has found a culture of greed that values short-term gains over the interests of customers and a board lacking in sufficient banking knowledge to control its top traders and executives.

The 234-page report by veteran lawyer Anthony Salz makes a raft of recommendations to repair the damaged reputation of the bank, including a shake-up at the top and deep cuts in levels of pay.

The pounds sterling 17 million Salz Review was commissioned by Barclays last July as the bank sought to convince the public and business that it is committed to change following years of scandal.

Some of the anger directed at Barclays came because its top staff failed to acknowledge that the banking system collapsed and had to be bailed out using public funds, argues Salz.

He writes: "A few investment bankers seemed to lose a sense of proportion and humility" and "some bankers have appeared oblivious to reality."

New chief executive Antony Jenkins recently pledged a complete overhaul at the bank, insisting the money- grabbing days were over and those who couldn't adapt should leave.

The Salz Review will be seen as a fairly damning indictment of the previous regime, where American Bob Diamond presided over a hard-charging culture that saw the bank soar in size. Barclays chairman David Walker acknowledged this morning: "The report makes for uncomfortable reading in parts."

Salz suggests management is presently able to do as it pleases, unchallenged by non-executives, and says Barclays needs more board members with banking experience.

Barclays was fined pounds sterling 290 million for its role in rigging Libor benchmark interest rates, but that is far from the only issue that has hit its reputation.

Salz says: "Barclays may have underestimated the reputational effect of its dealings with the tax authorities."

He adds that at lower levels staff may be too scared to speak up about wrongdoing, and says Barclays "should maintain robust arrangements" for whistle-blowing "to lead to actions being taken to address the underlying culture and values issues."

The bank said it will report ahead of its annual general meeting on implementation of the review. It came under new fire last month after picking Budget Day to reveal pounds sterling 40 million in bonuses for nine executives, and it also emerged it paid 428 staff more than pounds sterling 1 million.

Tomorrow the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards presents what is likely to be a damning report on the collapse of HBOS, and on its senior management.



Source: (c)2013 London Evening Standard Distributed by MCT Information Services