All brightness and gloss as new broom tries to sweep away past
It was the AJ show as Barclays' new chief executive outlined his master plan. Antony Jenkins wants to show the world it is still better off with the big bank, despite recent events suggesting otherwise.
Mr Jenkins is certainly fluent in finance, particularly when compared to his predecessor Bob Diamond, for whom detail wasn't always a strong point. The new man at the top has conducted a review of 75 business lines for their potential returns. He has also looked at the potential risks they pose to Barclays' battered reputation.
With promises to reshape the company and provide more for the shareholders that own the business, it seems AJ has quietly conquered the City's world – at least if the soaring share price is anything to go by.
But has he quietly conquered the world of Barclays? It's our business to know its business, and it remains a rough place, as the reports of Wall Street investment bankers sneering at Mr Jenkins' new broom have demonstrated. But he is not taking Barclays out of Wall Street, at least not yet. The investment bank remains a core part of the business. But will he take some of Wall Street out of Barclays?
Cynics noted that Mr Jenkins repeatedly failed to give his unequivocal backing to Rich Ricci, the head of that investment bank and one of the last reminders of the ancien régime. "I'm confident in my team," he said, but he added: "I can't predict the future."
There was certainly a conscious attempt to break with that regime in the way Barclays handled the presentation, hiring the Royal Horticultural Hall in Westminster rather than using the conferencing suite at Barclays' Canary Wharf HQ.
The hall was decked out in the blue and white corporate colour scheme, and so was Mr Jenkins, right down to his Barclays blue tie. The living embodiment of the new bank? Now there's a thought. Huge plaques were emblazoned with his five core values of integrity, respect, excellence, service and stewardship.
It was bright, it was glossy, and it was rather American. Mr Jenkins spoke from a lectern atop a dais (in Barclays blue and white of course) before walking to the edge to answer questions.
That was quite a stark contrast to Mr Diamond, who often preferred to glower at the press corps from behind a desk, flanked by his lieutenants.
Wrapping up, Mr Jenkins said: "These are not just words. This is not just window-dressing, or PR."
If he proves this, maybe people will start to feel they're better off talking to Barclays – AJ's go-to bank – again.
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