Tim Throsby, who joined Barclays to run its corporate and investment bank at the start of the year, has pressed the button on his first big management changes in the division, creating a new global structure for banking and paving the way for new management of the markets unit.
The reshuffle comes as a maelstrom continues to swirl around Barclays CEO Jes Staley – the latest embarrassment being media reports of an email conversation between him and an unknown correspondent who was purporting to be the bank’s chairman, John McFarlane.
Staley has already had to weather storms including a whistleblowing scandal that resulted in him being censured by the bank’s board and an annual general meeting this week in which some 16% of shareholder capital did not approve his reappointment.
However, insiders told Euromoney that the latest emails had not been raised as a topic at a town hall meeting held in New York on Thursday night.
And one London-based banker at the firm told Euromoney that even if the litany of mishaps had been a topic of conversation in the office over recent months, clients – and candidates to whom job offers were being made – had been surprisingly untroubled.
Another agreed: “Sure, there is chatter, but staff continue to talk to clients and do trades.”
Meanwhile, Throsby has a corporate and investment bank to run. He told staff on Thursday that he would assume interim responsibility for the markets division and move current head Joe Corcoran to a vice-chairman role.
On the banking side, current Americas CEO and global capital markets head Joe McGrath steps into the newly created role of global head of banking, handing over his GCM responsibilities to US-based Jean-Francois Astier, who is promoted from running global leveraged finance.
John Miller, who runs banking for the Americas, adds the title of head of global industry coverage banking, another new role for the firm. John Mahon, who was running corporate and investment banking in EMEA and Asia-Pacific, becomes head of corporate banking.
Finally, and unrelated to any of the other moves being announced, European corporate finance head Sam Dean is retiring from the firm.
The headline change is the move to a global structure in banking, which Throsby told staff was designed to ensure that clients were being serviced “with a global lens”.
Euromoney understands that his thinking was driven less by any concern that regions were unable to work together effectively on individual transactions, and was more to do with trying to avoid the risk of increasing separation between the way in which the units operate more broadly.
McGrath has previously served as a co-head of banking, together with Europe-based Richard Taylor. But he took on his broader US role as well as capital markets in 2016, when Mahon became head of EMEAPAC corporate and investment banking and John Miller was promoted to head banking in the US. At that time Taylor moved out of management and into a client role, as chairman of global CIB, where he remains.
What Throsby wants is a single head that can be tasked with ensuring that cross-border opportunities are being grasped. Since joining the firm in 2015, Staley has sought to rebrand Barclays as a transatlantic bank, and Throsby’s new banking structure is intended to play into that.
Mahon’s move – which will require a new appointment to take up the investment banking part of his old role – reflects Throsby’s view that the size of the corporate bank at Barclays, and the way in which regulatory changes have created headwinds on returns in corporate lending across the industry, demands dedicated leadership.
He told staff that Mahon would also continue to work on the bank’s response to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, as well as spending time focusing on the intersection between corporate and investment banking.
Dean, an ECM veteran who joined Barclays in 2009 to build that business at the firm and has since moved up the ranks to be running corporate finance in EMEA, is retiring from the bank. The decision to leave was his, and he discussed it with the bank two months ago, Euromoney understands.
He will spend a few months handing over his responsibilities, but the bank has not yet announced whether the corporate finance role will remain under any new head of banking for the region. Given that Mahon’s job is effectively being divided, the investment banking and capital markets groups in the region might report directly to the new EMEA banking head.
The overall moves in banking are notable for their apparent gravitation to the US, which will house the global head of banking, global head of industry coverage and global head of capital markets.
However, that is thought to be a function of the fact partly that the US is the firm’s strongest banking franchise and also a function of where individuals happen to be based right now, rather than any conscious strategy to push more weight to the US. The heart of the firm remains in London, insiders maintain.
For all the flurry of role changes in banking, however, the single change in the markets division is probably the more notable.
Corcoran is being moved upstairs to a vice-chairman role within the same group, with Throsby himself taking interim management responsibility while he considers his final structure.
Externally, the execution here looks clumsy: when banks move people out of roles, they typically like to be able to announce a replacement at the same time. That Throsby has not done so reflects the fact that the leadership structure of the markets division remains a work in progress and that he has not yet decided on a final setup.
Taking direct responsibility for the division is intended to enable him to work more closely with the individual business lines within it, with a view to better determining the right approach for the future.
That’s the theory, but what is clear is that two options are still on the table. Throsby could decide not to replace Corcoran, and simply have the various markets product heads report to him directly. That could get unwieldy, though. Regulators also tend to be wary of senior executives spreading themselves too thinly — after all, as the head of Barclays International, Throsby has plenty on his plate already.
Barclays insiders play down any concerns on that front – citing the strong operational support that Throsby can expect. But the more likely option remains that Throsby will appoint a direct replacement once he has got the teams moving in the direction he wants and has identified a new head.
As for Corcoran, Throsby’s memo announcing the changes describes his new role in terms that are nebulous even by the usual standards of such moves. He is moving to a role “where he will work directly with the markets management team on many of our initiatives”, writes Throsby.
If Corcoran didn’t choose to step back of his own accord, and if he ends up not relishing the projects assigned to him, it would be unsurprising for him to look elsewhere.
Whatever structure Throsby ends up choosing for markets, the priority is on getting it to work quickly.
Since joining the firm, he has made no secret internally of his desire to put the markets franchise squarely into the bulge-bracket, and his phrasing of his memo announcing the change on Thursday – talking of “significant opportunities to grow and develop our franchise” – left no doubt that he considers that as an objective still to be met.
Part of that is ensuring that the firm is making the most of thoughtful risk-taking – when he joined the firm, Throsby was struck by the fact that Barclays was still in crisis mode when it came to risk in some areas, and had scope to take on more even within the limits it had set itself internally.
Euromoney understands the new structure is not solely a response to that, but reflects a broader desire to continue the bank’s move away from crisis-recovery mode and into a controlled investment in building the business again.
The equities business – where Throsby has focused for much of his career – is one area where particular focus will be placed. The electronic agenda, where the bank has arguably lagged some competitors, is another.