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Opinion

Chair and chair alike: Barclays joins the senior relationship party

A new group at the top of the investment bank’s coverage effort is another indication of where its priorities now lie.

Mark Baker on investment banking 1920px

It is hard to imagine any investment bank executive coming to the sudden realization that what their business really needs is more chairmen. But over recent years it has become fashionable to approach senior client relationships in a more organized way than the traditional and haphazard sideways shift of experienced bankers into chairman roles when they have outlived their usefulness as business line managers.

Barclays is the latest to try this out. In June it unveiled a new initiative for some of its senior investment banking folk, with the creation of a global chairman’s group that sees eight of the bank’s top relationship bankers work together to drive client business.

If Barclays’ plan sounds sort of familiar, it should. In February 2020, JPMorgan announced a new executive committee of global chairs, headed by Carlos Hernandez. That move was variously seen as a way to counter the talent threat from boutiques, to promote a new generation of managers in their place without having to push experienced executives out of the firm, and to put an explicit and dedicated focus on client relationships at the most senior levels.

Gone was the old idea of a chairman role being simply a reward for long service and a quiet way to park someone without the hassle of paying them off.


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