Mark Richards is to head up Barclays' new 'lighter touch' Private Clients division for sub-£500,000 clients.

The appointment comes as letters are sent out to clients affected by the bank's decision to overhaul the way it services smaller clients under chief executive Peter Horrell (pictured).

The new ‘lighter touch’ private clients division is now up and running and will service clients from call centres in Glasgow, Birmingham and London. Clients will be given a new point of contact known as a private client services manager who is not regulated but overseen by a regulated private clients manager, who will be on hand to assist. Clients affected have been notified and are starting introductions to their new points of contact.

Richards, Barclays' managing director and global head of sales, intermediaries and corporates, will also now head the new team responsible for clients with less than £500,000, along with advisory clients from other parts of Barclays. 

The bank said these clients will continue to have access to banking support 24 hours a day, with investment advice available during normal office hours.

Barclays previously said it is not planning to make material changes to the investment proposition for the new Private Clients division. But back in November it said that ‘over time there will be changes to the investment solutions, but we [Barclays] expect to offer discretionary, investment advice, execution-only, financial planning and access to banking and credit’.

Regulatory pressures are one driver behind the restructure, which has also resulted in job cuts. What was traditionally the Gerrard business operates from a different legal platform, and the regulators are forcing banks to streamline the number of legal entities they operate from. 

The bank has said the total net worth of these clients represent a small percentage of the bank’s £50 billion in assets under management in the UK.

The bank acquired the Gerrard business 12 years ago and inherited a number of clients with portfolios under £500,000, a segment of the market it does not actively target.