James Moore: Salz report won't deliver value for money unless Barclays really changes

The report is actually rather vague. There’s lots of lofty talk about culture and values

Outlook There is a certain irony in the investment banker Anthony Salz metaphorically wagging his finger at Barclays over its pay practices and the way its investment bankers had become divorced from reality in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

His employer, Rothschild, is an investment bank, and it billed Barclays £1.5m for his services. His report into Barclays' business practices was put together with the support of expensive, and highly paid, lawyers from Herbert Smith and consultants from the Boston Consulting Group. The total cost to the bank? Some £17m. How very City, you might think.

Even more so, given what's on offer. It's not that Mr Salz's report isn't without something to titillate. There's that bit about some of Barclays' investment bankers becoming "oblivious to reality" and losing all sense of "proportion and humility", for a start.

Then there was the identification of the 70-strong cabal of senior managers who appear to have been grossly over-paid, even by comparison with other banks, during the ascent of Barclays Capital, now Barclays Investment Bank.

Although we kind of knew that. There's not much here that we didn't know, really. The publication of the report – and Barclays was under no obligation to release it – is to some extent a statement of intent. An admission of the sins of the past, and a promise to do better in future, although (it should be remembered) there are still a lot of people at Barclays who were very much a part of what went wrong. Including the chief executive, (Saint) Antony Jenkins, who has admitted some personal culpability for payment protection insurance mis-selling.

All the same, as Ian Gordon, the banking analyst who is commendably blunt, points out: the report is actually rather vague.

There's lots of lofty talk about building culture and "values". Calls for Barclays to issue reports on how it's getting on and to build better relationships with "stakeholders". Perhaps more meaningfully, the suggestion that top pay needs to be cut, although the bank's cost-to-income ratio suggests that it is already moving in that direction.

A bit more meaningful are the suggestions for structural reforms, including giving human resources more clout so that they can screen the "values" of job candidates, for example. That said, perhaps the most important paragraph in the whole report is the first one, which warns that "the extent to which Barclays is able to implement some of our recommendations depends on how the industry as a whole responds to the challenges it faces".

In other words, if other banks don't change along with Barclays none of the £17m spent on this report is going to amount to a hill of beans.

Barclays might be keen to be seen as a good corporate citizen; some of its top management might even mean it when they say they've changed. But the high-minded sentiments displayed in this report are not universally shared.

Just read one of those windy letters that Jamie Dimon is fond of sending to shareholders in JP Morgan via that bank's annual report, full of self justification and attacks on regulators, and you will see that made abundantly clear.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
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

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there