Posts Tagged ‘Barclays’

Want to fix banking regulation? Try a dose of greed

04/07/2012, 07:00:07 AM

by Anthony Bonneville

It’s been a bad couple of weeks for bankers.

Barclays has been caught with its fingers in the proverbial till again. A new mis-selling scandal has been unveiled featuring all our favourite banking villains. And Nat West meanwhile fails to perform even the most basic of tasks one would expect from a bank.

The cry has gone up, “something must be done,” and in government, this means inquiries, reports, sage deliberations and, ultimately, nothing happening to the banks who, by an astonishing coincidence, are also substantial donors and lobbyists.

Meanwhile Joris Luyendijk’s excellent blogs in the Guardian continue to reveal the mentality of some people in financial services and the potentially toxic culture that they are immersed in and inevitably affected by.

One of the finest examples of this is the interview with a senior regulator, who advises,

“Banks are fundamentally amoral places. They are not immoral; morality simply has no part in the decision-making process. They talk about ‘reputational risk’, not about right and wrong decisions”

He’s not wrong. The resignation statement of Barclay’s chairman Marcus Agius (before he unresigned himself and took charge again following Bob Diamond’s exit) declares.

“We will establish a zero-tolerance policy for any actions that harm the reputation of the bank.”

Not even zero tolerance for actions that could harm the reputation of the bank. This form of words rather unfortunately leaves the door open to an interpretation that Barclays staff are being enjoined not to “do no wrong” but “don’t get caught”.

Bob Diamond followed suit yesterday with the type of heartfelt of mea culpa that restores public faith in bankers’ conscience and integrity,

“The external pressure placed on Barclays has reached a level that risks damaging the franchise”

Or maybe not.

Clearly then, it is a vain hope that the bad banks will keep their own house in order, so what is the solution?


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AJ and VOC: what Bob Diamond doesn’t understand about bankers’ bonuses

13/01/2011, 12:00:20 PM

by Richard Horton

Barclays boss Bob Diamond talked at length about “pay for performance” during his stint in front of the treasury select committee on Tuesday. And perform he did. Yesterday’s papers inevitably focused on his handling of questions on the twin topics of bonuses for investment bankers and lending to retail customers. And while there was good copy to be had in his assertion that no minister has yet looked him straight in the eye and asked Barclays to restrain bonuses, the real story was sat next to him in the form of Antony Jenkins, chief executive of global retail banking.

AJ – as he is known by his friends and colleagues at Barclays – is in charge of the banking that you and I do on the high street or on the internet. However, his boss comes from an investment banking background, what committee chair, Andrew Tyrie, called “casino banking”. Diamond didn’t like the use of that term and made his feelings known to the committee. In fact, Diamond was so strident in his responses to the committee’s questions that AJ could barely get a word in edgeways. That in itself  speaks volumes about the dynamic between retail and investment banking. AJ was there to fire stats about lending to small businesses and customer satisfaction levels. To provide the necessary statistical liquidity to support his boss, just like retail banking deposits provide monetary liquidity for “casino banking” activities. (more…)

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