Barclays' boss wants nicer banks

Banks have made “serious mistakes”, according to the the new boss of Barclays’ bank Anthony Jenkins.

Speaking yesterday to the BBC, Jenkins said that banks had to “rebuild trust” by becoming more “socially useful” to customers. The speech was part of the Barclay chief’s wider announcement that the bank was stepping up efforts to get smaller firms exporting.

According to the bank’s research, 29% of smaller businesses see improvements six months of going international and Barclays has now promised to provide free support and advice to those wishing to do so.

Since taking the helm in late August, Jenkins has made restoring the bank’s image a key priority, pledging to work more with SMEs and to scale down, although not eliminate, Barclays’ investment banking arm.

However, in media leaks of Barclays’ internal documents which emerged today, the bank said it will soon drastically reorganise its investment arm.

Iain Abrahams, who was linked to selling complex financial products that reduced the bank’s tax bills for high-net-worth individuals, will be the most high-profile banker to go in the overhaul. But the executive vice-chairman is unlikely to be the only one to face the axe, with the bank carrying out a wider review due to report next month.

Barclay’s former boss Bob Diamond was forced to resign in July after the bank was linked to the Libor manipulation scandal and possibly fraudulent activities involving the Middle East investor Qatar Holding. The bank paid out £290m in a settlement with UK and US authorities over Libor rate manipulation.

Jenkins, sometimes referred to as “the nice guy of banking” previously headed Barclays’ retail and business banking branch.

“You will see at Barclays we will make significant progress in the coming months at Barclays and that will start to rebuild trust,” Jenkins said. “You need a vibrant banking system to have a vibrant economy. What’s important is that people judge us by our actions.

“I’m on record as saying that the industry and to some extent Barclays did lose sight of the customer and it’s our job to put the customer back at the centre of everything that we do.

“I’m also not naive about how long that will take - it will take time,” he added.

Jenkins has been a member of the executive committee since 2009 and receives an annual salary of £1.1m. He also receives bonus packages potentially worth as much as 250% of his salary.

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