My week: Banking already has a new look, but the biggest changes are yet to come

And goodwill breaks out between buyers and sellers in the City

Business editor

I spent Monday in the company of the two sides of British banking. First of all, coffee with Antony Jenkins, the chief executive of Barclays, who is trying to bring about culture change, a hefty restructuring and a technology revolution all at the same time. His recent reset of the plan, which will result in investment banking activities being reduced to no more than 30 per cent of the business and up to 19,000 staff being laid off, shows this is a movable feast. Yet he is confident he is getting somewhere.

For all the growth Mr Jenkins might see in the top line from a recovery in foreign exchange and commodities trading, it is tackling cost that will bring the improvement in the dividend that shareholders are pressing for.

Cost is also on the mind of Wilbur Ross, nicknamed the King of Bankruptcy after scooping up numerous failed companies and turning a handsome profit on them. Mr Ross might be best known for the American steel mills and coal mines he has traded over the years, but his interest turned to financial services as soon as the crisis broke.

Now he is behind Sir Richard Branson’s tilt at shaking up high street banking as a leading shareholder in Virgin Money. It’s been a long time coming. The pair originally tried to buy Northern Rock together in 2007 but Gordon Brown’s government opted to nationalise it.

Mr Ross didn’t mind the wait. He hung around for four years before deciding it was the right time to invest in a Greek bank a few months ago.

Virgin Money has critical mass now, with 500,000 credit-card customers and 1.25 million savings accounts. With the launch of a current account imminent, Mr Ross is casting an eye over the rest of the market. It’s one thing to herald the glut of new challenger banks – including TSB, whose shares got off to a strong start yesterday. But cost pressures dictate these tiddlers will eventually be consolidated by someone.

Mr Ross likes the idea of Virgin driving into small-business lending. The one thing he doesn’t want is more bricks and mortar. Can a full-service British bank really be run off just 75 branches? Ask FirstDirect, which doesn’t have any. Barclays, on the other hand, has more than 1,500.

We think that banking has been completely overhauled by tighter regulation of capital and new selling rules. But the cost of implementing all those rules, plus consumers’ enthusiasm for mobile and web banking, means that bigger changes still lie ahead.

After Crossrail, what will be next infrastructure project?

 From bankers to diggers. After exploring the heights of Barclays’ 30th floor at Canary Wharf, I plunged beneath ground for a tour of the Crossrail project, which is quietly taking shape beneath the capital.

More than 80 per cent of the 26 miles of new tunnels that will carry trains west to east through London from 2018 are already dug. Now they are into the business of spraying concrete linings on the tunnel walls. Station platforms and ticket halls come next.

Terry Morgan, Crossrail’s chairman, who donned high-vis jacket and trousers to show me around, is supremely confident of hitting deadline and budget.

Two points stuck out. The Government has just this week rolled out the red carpet to the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, securing pledges to invest in new nuclear power stations; meanwhile the £16bn Crossrail project is being financed largely from increased London business rates.

Mr Morgan, a veteran of BAE Systems and Land Rover, has also been careful to plan for the future. A training academy for tunnelling and underground construction, sponsored by Crossrail, has ushered 5,000 people through its doors since it opened in Essex in 2011.

Now we need some bold vision for the next infrastructure project that can boost the economy and keep those workers busy. Perhaps sinking the HS2 rail link under the English countryside is just the thing to quieten the environmental lobby?

Goodwill breaks out between buyers and sellers in the City

 I could have sworn this year’s stampede on to the stock market would have slowed down by now. Yet this has been one of the briskest weeks so far for companies to announce their intentions to sell shares, price them or begin trading.

Fund managers have been doing their best to avoid over-hyped, over-valued new issues such as websites Just Eat and AO World. The listing of Saga, for all of its brand strength and customer loyalty, was just bungled. And some companies have decided just not to bother, such as the airline Wizz Air.

The appetite for fresh equity is still there, however. Zoopla, another digital darling, showed the way, pricing itself conservatively when it could so easily have been overdone. Even TSB, for whom Lloyds is a forced seller, looks like a success, aided by healthy interest from retail investors and Mark Carney.

By signalling that interest rate rises are on the way soon, the Bank of England’s Governor will inadvertently push more TSB customers on to fixed rate mortgages – a trend which makes for higher profit margins.

It seems goodwill has broken out between buyers and sellers in the Square Mile. Surely it’ll never last?

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio talks during the press conference for the film

Film follows park rangers in the Congo

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Administrator

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...

Customer Service Executive / Inbound Customer Service Agent

£18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...

ASP.NET Web Developer / .NET Developer

£60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album