Can Antony Jenkins get rid of Bob Diamond's legacy at Barclays?

New Barclays boss Antony Jenkins wants the bank to clean up its act, but James Moore asks if anything will really change

Clean up or clear off. That was the message sent to more than 140,000 employees at Barclays, from the lowliest tellers in its branches to the millionaire traders whose primary concern right now is when they might finally get their hands on the restricted stock they've been forced to accept in lieu of their beloved cash bonuses.

In a letter which arrived in all of their inboxes this morning, the new chief executive Antony Jenkins had a stark message for those who won't buy into his TRANSFORM (sic) programme with its five core values of "respect, integrity, service, excellence and stewardship".

"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 simply: 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," he said.

The warning was laid down in the wake of the Libor interest-rate fixing scandal that cost Barclays £290m in fines, as well as its chief executive Bob Diamond and chairman Marcus Agius. Not to mention the reputational damage inflicted by traders' emails promising colleagues bottles of Bollinger for attempting to cook the books.

The bank also last year raised the amount set aside for mis-selling payment protetction insurance to £2bn. And it continues to fight a proposed £291m fine for alleged manipulation of the California energy-trading market.

Over the coming weeks more than a thousand people will be trained to preach Barclays' new message to staff. Even top investment bankers might have to attend re-education sessions.

So is this a sudden return to the venerable institution's Quaker roots?

Some of those who have been close to the bank for some time look at the move with a jaundiced eye. They say that the five core values are remarkably similar to the six "Barclays Behaviours" held up in 2002 as ideals for the bank's staff under the man Mr Diamond replaced as chief executive, John Varley.

They argue that this programme fell away under Mr Diamond and the managers he brought in. Those managers include one Antony Jenkins.

Said one former Barclays employee: "This will only work if the people at the top of the bank live it and if the reward structures are based on living up to it. I'm sure the chairman Sir David Walker does, but the others have to as well.'

Views in the City about that were rather mixed.

One banker said: "I think they genuinely are determined to go way beyond putting in a new layer of controls. They want to engineer a new culture. But that is very, very difficult."

Far from living up to a Quaker, or even a 2002, ideal, others noted that there were commercial considerations at play in Mr Jenkins' letter.

David Buik, the City commentator, said: "He has to do this for three reasons. Firsly, when he took over he said he would. Secondly, he's employed the most expensive compliance officer in the City in Sir Hector Sants [the former head of the Financial Services Authority]. Thirdly, he wants to steal a march on the other banks. While they are fighting fires of their own, Barclays wants to be seen to be stepping up."

As for Barclays' critics outside of the City, David Hillman, a spokesman for the Robin Hood Tax Campaign, said: "This is a hopeful sign that Barclays may finally be waking up to the misery they inflicted by mis-selling products and manipulating interest rates. But it is by their actions not their words that they'll be judged – they need to start serving the interests of wider society, not just feathering their own nest.

"Warm sentiments won't soften the suffering inflicted by the economic crisis – if banks are serious about breaking with the past they must also pay for the damage they've caused."

Whether you believe Mr Jenkins is sincere – and to be fair plenty do – or you take a more cynical view, he's certainly got people talking. All except for the analysts who cover Barclays stock.

They barely shrugged their shoulders. They've seen this sort of thing before. Some are even old enough to remember Mr Varley and his Barclays Behaviours back in 2002. The main event for them will be Mr Jenkins' strategy presentation next month.

The stock market too hardly noticed. Barclays shares finished the day virtually unchanged at 296p.

A number of investors are pressing for a break up the bank. They want the investment arm spun off.

That would not be a terribly palatable route for any chief executive to take, however. For years now it has generated the lion's shares of Barclays' profits. Without it, the bank would still be an important player, but only in banking's second division.

When UBS decided it needed to restore its reputation after an even bigger fine – £900m – for Libor fixing, it sacked thousands of investment bankers as part of a wholesale retreat from large parts of the business. That's highly unlikely to happen at Barclays, whatever its new values are.

It is true Barclays is likely to call time on some of its more controversial businesses, its tax-planning arm, and the trading of certain "soft" commodities, such as grain. But the smart money is on Barclays Investment Bank remaining integral to Barclays Bank.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Two christmas trees ,Moonbeam (2L), Moonchester (2R) and Santa Claus outside the Etihad Stadium
footballAll the action from today's games
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Carlton Senior Appointments: Private Banking Manager - Intl Bank - Los Angeles

$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer – Office...

Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advisor – Ind Advisory Firm

$125 - $225 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: San Fran - Investment Advi...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas