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Barclays: Can Jes do it?

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Six months ago, Jes Staley took on a job that many of his peers said they did not envy. His task: to turn Barclays’ business performance around and create a clear strategic vision for a bank that had not adapted to a new regulatory and market environment. Work remains to be done, not least in agreeing a ring-fenced structure and improving returns at the investment bank. But the mood at Barclays appears to be brightening.

In 189 words, Barclays CEO Jes Staley can tell you his strategy. He has done just that in a video for staff. To communicate it, he gives an elevator pitch – and not from just any elevator. This one starts at Barclays’ London headquarters at One Churchill Place. When Staley gets out of it, he is standing at Barclays in New York, 745 7th Avenue.

Across thousands of miles but just seconds of time, he has focused on the bank’s core franchises: retail, credit cards, the corporate and investment bank. He is closing non-core businesses as quickly as he can. He is building a transatlantic, consumer, corporate and investment bank that will deliver double-digit returns. It will be an excellent place to work. It will put customers and clients first.

The result, Staley argues, will be a bank that is trusted and respected by clients in London, New York and anywhere in the world. It will, he optimistically projects, redefine the future of banking.

It is clear that Staley knows what he wants Barclays to be, a question previous senior management appears to have struggled with. But the real question is: can he do it?

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Mark Baker is Deputy Editor. Prior to joining Euromoney magazine he was based in Hong Kong as managing editor, Asia, for the Capital Markets Group. He previously edited EuroWeek magazine and was also deputy editor at International Financing Review.
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