Unacceptable faces of banking? The Barclays big hitters


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The Independent Online


Bob Diamond

Once Britain’s high priest of casino capitalism as the boss of investment bank Barclays Capital, Bob Diamond seemed to undergo something of a Damascene conversion soon after becoming overall chief executive of Barclays.

The former investment banker pledged to make the bank a “better corporate citizen”. Under him the headlines on last year’s annual results this year didn’t even mention profit but instead concentrated on Barclays’ “citizenship” and its contribution to Britain’s economy.

Now it looks like he has egg over his face. This will not go down well with Mr Diamond and heads are likely to roll.

Combative, driven, ruthless, but occasionally ever so slightly thin-skinned, Mr Diamond lost out in a battle with John Varley for the top job in 2004. After some early head butting, the two men formed an effective partnership, and his elevation was scarcely in doubt when Mr Varley retired last year.

Mr Diamond has since become a celebrity chief executive in every sense of the word, and wasn’t above using Barclays sponsorship of Premiership football to present the trophy to his beloved Chelsea when they last won.

But his high public profile has meant he has become a lightning rod for the vexed issue of bankers’ pay, and Barclays was engulfed in controversy as a result of last year’s package, and only just saw off a big shareholder rebellion.

The dual national - he was born in New England but has added a British passport to his American one - Mr Diamond once said he got up at 6am every morning “with a smile on  my face because my job is about helping people”. Whether the smile was there this morning is rather questionable.

Chris Lucas

The straight man to his more mercurial chief executive, Chris Lucas is Mr Diamond’s king of numbers and the only British-born member of the “big four” executives at Barclays.

He was educated at Dauntsey’s School in Wiltshire and Southampton University from where he followed the route that so many of this country’s business leaders have taken by joining one of the big accountancy firms, in his case PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Softly spoken, the bank used to have Mr Lucas kicking off its results press conferences perhaps hoping his somewhat monotone delivery would dampen down the fireworks when Mr Diamond got going. It never really worked.

Jerry del Missier

An investment banker and longtime associate of Bob Diamond, he cut his teeth in the arcane world of credit derivatives, having graduated in chemical engineering at Canada’s Queen’s University.

Got his start in banking in Canada before moving to Bankers Trust in London, joining Barclays 15 years ago. He was previously co-head of investment banking but assumed the vacant role of chief operating officer only last week, with part of his focus being on regulatory compliance. No wonder.

Mr del Missier is one of the banks top earners, but hasn’t been shy of donating money to worthy causes, including his former university which received C$500,000 from its old boy to “support undergraduate studies in chemical engineering and engineering”.

Rich Ricci

One of the more colourful characters at Barclays, Rich Ricci is arguably Britain’s most appropriately named banker as well as one of its richest.

He might be an American - having cut his teeth on Wall Street - but has certainly taken to his adoptive home and its traditions.

Racing over obstacles is scarcely known stateside, but days after receiving a multi-million pound bonus this year Mr Rich turned up at the Cheltenham Festival resplendent in the National Hunt enthusiast’s favoured garb of tweeds and a trilby.

Sadly his racehorse Scotsirish had to be put down after breaking a leg. But he enjoyed a swift reversal of fortune when another of his horses, Champagne Fever, won the Champion Bumper (a flat race for jumps horses) for legendary Irish trainer Willie Mullins at 16-1 later in the week.

The odds could favour a repeat appearance for the horse in a hurdles race next year although they could be against Mr Rich, now the sole head of investment bank Barclays Capital, attending given the mess Barclays has got itself into.