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Why Barclays' new wealth chief is taking 'tough decisions'

Why Barclays' new wealth chief is taking 'tough decisions'

Barclays' incoming wealth and investment chief executive Peter Horrell has both the direct-to-consumer and high net worth segments in his sights, with plans to develop the bank’s propositions at both ends of the scale.

Horrell, who is now CEO of Barclays’ wealth and investment business and took on an interim role after Tom Kalaris announced his plans to retire, is to put a new strategy in place for the wealth division with a new leadership team in place. This includes Henry Fischel-Bock as head of UK and European private banking; Rory Tobin, responsible for global research and investments for the wealth advisory and asset management arms; Shaun Phillips as head of intermediaries and international; and Rupert Dickinson at the helm of the bank’s direct-to-consumer proposition Wealth Direct.

Horrell said the bank’s new strategy in the wealth division would leverage off capability and expertise in corporate, retail and investment banking and being more disciplined about the clients they want to target – even at the risk of losing short-term revenue in some areas.

‘What we are doing today is setting out the direction of travel and strategy for each type of decision and we will work closely across Barclays and with stake holders. Today we are setting out for the team the focus we need to have to build a really great business. We are taking some tough decisions to say it is okay to go backwards on short-term revenue if it builds more of a focus on client experience and a sustainable business,’ he told Wealth Manager.

While the chief executive remained tight-lipped about whether any changes would be made on pricing, he said he welcomes the new found transparency in the market place post the retail distribution review.

Horrell said the call to withdraw from a number of international markets had featured among the tough decisions made. The bank now has a presence in 70 markets, having served multiples of that previously.

Removing duplication

Likewise, the incoming chief is seeking to remove duplication within the wealth, corporate, retail and investment banking divisions and pull together different aspects across the group to enhance propositions. He is particularly keen to do this through the development of Barclays Wealth Direct for the execution-only market, which will incorporate the Barclays Stockbrokers platform alongside aspects of the bank’s premier and retail services.

‘Within the UK we have been clear about believing that the direct space is a great opportunity for Barclays, where we have got the capability and we are building out those clients that require self-service. At the other end for high net worth, we have taken tough decisions there to remove duplication and management to provide greater clarity,’ he said.

It is understood that the bank has no plans to up minimums further, following its decision to withdraw discretionary management for clients below the £100,000 mark. Horrell said its proposition in the affluent space or rather the sub-£500,000 bracket was likely to undergo change but was unable to disclose details at this point.

‘We need to make sure we have a private client affluent business that is delivered consistently and of course economically,’ he added.

While the bank has been rocked by a raft of senior departures across the business post the Libor scandal and other fines, causing the culture of the organisation to come into question, Horrell said culture and values throughout the bank was ‘an immense focus and continues to be an immense focus’ for the management team.

In Barclays' first half results, it announced that £22 million had been set aside for 'client remediation provision' for those invested in the AIG Enhanced Variable Rate fund, which was suspended in late November 2008. The group also announced a £5.8 billion rights issue, while its wealth division posted a 53% drop in pre-tax profit to £47 million, largely due to the increase in its operating costs.

The division shouldered a £33 million share of the bank's £640 million Transform programme bill, though more broadly it saw its total income rise year-on-year, from £875 million at the end of June 2012 to £931 million at the end of June 2013.

This rise was driven by Barclays' high net worth (HNW) client base, the bank said, highlighting that the typical customer asset margin had also risen by 16bps to 81bps, reflecting higher margins on HNW businesses. 

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