James Moore: Will Salz's review there be radical enough?

 

Outlook Talking of Barclays, it yesterday confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in the City by appointing Anthony Salz to lead a review of its business practices. Until 2006, the good Mr Salz was a corporate lawyer. From there, that's right, he moved into investment banking.

A vice chairman at Rothschild's, he said he hoped his review would "significantly assist Barclays in re building trust and reaffirming its position as one of our leading institutions". That ought to involve some radical ideas about reforming Barclays' culture.

Bob Diamond, the former chief executive, once said the actions of the traders who tried to fix Libor and were promised bottles of Bollinger for doing so "did not reflect" the culture of his bank or the 140,000 people Barclays employs.

However, the conversations I have had with former Barclays staff paint a picture of an environment where you put in days of 12 or 14 hours or even longer, and you can forget about finding a niche for yourself where you do well. It's move up or move out. That may not be the whole picture. But a hothouse environment does seem to encourage a certain type of person whose moral compass might not be totally effective.

The sort of person who, when they reach management, might be blind to the flaws in hugely profitable products of dubious worth. Such as payment protection insurance policies. Or interest rate swaps sold to small business.

Is Mr Salz, a City insider, prepared to indulge in the radical thinking that Barclays badly needs? Will he be willing to make unpalatable suggestions? We shall see.

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