Antony Jenkins leads a transformational programme [‘RISES’] at Barclays

April 27, 2013



By Nigel Aldcroft

Antony JenkinsAntony Jenkins has been Group Chief Executive of Barclays PLC for less than a year and has already made quite an impression within the company. His RISES programme is accompanied by nearly 4000 job losses

A recent article in Business Week suggests that Barclay’s self-described ‘transformational leader’ [image above] faces a number of key dilemmas.

Banking Turnaround

Amid the recent banking scandals, and in an effort to turn Barclays around, Jenkins has announced that following on from a recent strategic review he intends to reduce headcount by at least 3,700 this year across the group as part of the new ‘Transform’ programme.

He recently introduced a plan which creates the positive sounding acronym ‘RISES’ [Respect, Integrity, Service, Excellence and Stewardship]. These are not values that immediately spring to mind in banking, yet progress can be seen at most Barclays’ offices.

Jenkins has taken a no-nonsense approach telling staff to ‘shape up – or ship out’ This abrupt and clear approach suggests symbolic leadership signals.

Read the rest of this entry »

Barclays in a spin. Bob Diamond goes, Marcus Agius comes back

July 3, 2012

[Update] In twenty four hours, the LIBOR scandal at Barclays bank results in exit of Marcus Agius as Chairman. Then CEO Bob Diamond quits, and Mr Agius returns as Executive Chairman through the revolving door of fate

Yesterday LWD noted the departure of Mr Agius, and speculated on the future of Bob Diamond. Diamond Bob had gone out of his way to reassure significant financial individuals in and outside Barclays that the story would fade away leaving financial institutions relatively unscathed.

Within twenty four hours, the matter had become the centre of a political as well as a financial storm. It seems that the establishment of parliamentary enquiries to investigate the LIBOR affair had resulted in a decision by Mr Diamond to quit immediately [BBC’s financial sleuth Robert Peston, 8.30 am, July 3rd 2012, shortly after the announcement was made public]

I speculated yesterday that Mr Diamond was a financial asset whose value could fall as well as rise. The fall was more rapid than I could have imagined.

A storm brews

The story is escalating as quickly as any I have followed over many years. In 24 hours there have been debates in the House of Lords and House of Commons. Those impacted include very senior civil servants, the head of the Bank of England, the fomer head of Barclays, John Varley, high-profile political figures such as George Osborne [who seems to have some part to play in any political story in the UK at present]. Oh, yes, and various financial executives at Barclays and elsewhere who found yesterday a good day for resigning their posts.

Update [6th July 2012]

The Diamond performance to the commons committee attracted widespread attention. The opinions varied from ’10 out of 10’ [for avoiding any ‘confessional’ statement that might be held against him ], to much lower ratings for failing to convince the committee of his integrity [laughter at his perceived obfuscations], and an error of judgment in trying to be too familiar [use of first names . The committee was also rated in some commentaries, but I couldn’t find any assessment that was positive.

I urge students of leadership to get hold of a full copy of proceedings. Also note that for MBA business presentations (not to mention for Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman) the interviewee would certainly be more promptly advised to deal directly with a simple question (but that’s a bit more advanced than media training 101)

Marcus Agius falls on his sword

July 2, 2012

Marcus Agius is ‘Liborated’ as chairman of Barclays

Barclays faces serious charges over the fixing of the London Inter-Bank lending rate (Libor). Its chairman, Marcus Agius resigns. Will Bob Diamond, the bank’s most valuable player (MVP), also be forced into premature retirement?

Acceptance of disgrace and retention of honour

It as ancient symbolic gesture for a leader to fall on his sword, the ultimate gesture of acceptance of disgrace and retention of honour. The gesture is sometimes made with a little help from others. A modern version is the loaded pistol provided to the exposed traitor. The Telegraph reported the resignation [Monday 2nd July, 2012]:

Barclays was fined a record £290m last week for attempting to manipulate the interbank lending rate, Libor, between 2005 and 2009.

Mr Agius, chairman for the past five years, said on Monday: “Last week’s events – evidencing as they do unacceptable standards of behaviour within the bank – have dealt a devastating blow to Barclays reputation. As Chairman, I am the ultimate guardian of the bank’s reputation. Accordingly, the buck stops with me and I must acknowledge responsibility by standing aside.”

A metaphoric pistol?

Maybe Mr Agius was handed the metaphorical equivalent of a loaded pistol after being cornered by his enemies. His gesture of self-destruction is something out of the last scene of a spy-thriller. It also appears consistent with his reputation of conducting business in an honourable way. There’s Mr Agius for you. But then there’s his CEO, the finance superstar and controversial Mr Diamond.

Then there’s Diamond Bob..

The impact of the Libor wrongdoings will have further repercussions Mr Aigus and the Bank’s CEO Bob Diamond were expected to receive an invitation to spend a little time with members of Her Majesty’s Select Finance Committee after their next meeting [Tuesday 3rd July 2012].

Now Mr Aigus is gone. But Diamond Bob is a quite different figure. His reputation as a successful financial leader was reflected in his reputation and glittering remuneration year by year. But this is the year of the stakeholder spring. Mr Diamond is no longer described primarily as a generator of wealth and employment, even in the generally admiring pages of the financial press. Despite the recently-imposed fine on Barclays of £291 million, as well as Revenue and Customs tax settlement fine of nearly twice that amount, Mr Diamond may still be seen as a valuable (if somewhat diminished) asset by some of Barclays’ the big stakeholders.

That’s the thing about financial assets. They tend to go up and down in value.

To be continued

The Libor affair is capturing the headlines this week. We examined Mr Diamond’s spectacular knack for making money and generating public enemies in an earlier post.