Barclays reorganization: good in parts

By:
Mark Baker
Published on:

Tim Throsby needs to strike a balance between upheaval and stability.

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Banks love reorganizations (bankers, of course, hate them). But few banks embrace them quite as regularly as Barclays seems to these days. 

The latest – marking new corporate and investment bank head Tim Throsby’s first real stab at the org chart – is a bit of a conundrum.

On the banking side, it is hard to argue with the logic. Having a single global head of banking in Joe McGrath should avoid the typical problem of co-heads being merely the heads of whatever region each of them is running. 

Rejigging the Europe structure makes sense too. John Mahon is a formidable presence, and a stint sorting out Barclays non-core certainly showed his resilience. But his EMEAPAC leadership role was the ever-expanding portfolio and it looks sensible to have him focus on the corporate bank now, if that is where the bank thinks a dedicated resource is needed. 

With EMEA corporate finance head Sam Dean retiring, it also means the bank rationalizes the management layers. The next appointment to run European and Middle Eastern banking will combine Dean’s old role and the investment bank bit of Mahon’s.

But the fact remains that the new structure rolls back one that had only been put in place last year. And, in Europe at least, part of the point of Mahon’s previous role was to make sure the corporate bank and the investment bank were more joined up. Unless everything has changed in the last year, splitting those roles out again surely makes that harder.

As for markets, who knows? Throsby has moved Joe Corcoran out of the day-to-day job of running it and is taking it on himself. Some at the firm reckon he will replace Corcoran with another appointment rather than continue running it himself, which makes one wonder why he hasn’t done so already.  

CitiBunker

Will Citi’s New York head office ever be finished? Not finished as in done for, of course. Finished as in done. Bankers there tell Euromoney that there are at least several years more building work to be endured at the bank’s Greenwich Street address before they will finally be free of the drilling and scraping. 

Internal meeting rooms are getting desperate: natural light is at a premium and temporary walls (and windows) are the design feature du jour. 

For some, it is the occasional bone-shaking thud that they really relish.

Let’s not forget that beyond the cranes, the tarps (Citi Greenwich St is so over Tarp, btw) and the chipboard hoardings, there is a trading floor trying to execute intelligently and product-agnostically on behalf of clients. If they ever feel like losing it completely, they have the consolation of a small sheet of paper stuck to a wall that shows them what the trading floor has looked like over the years, alongside a vision of the wonders that are to come.

In the meantime, however, we should pity them. “It’s like trying to cook Thanksgiving dinner while they’re remodelling your kitchen,” sighs one business head as he strides into the broad sunlit dustlands.

The theory is that Throsby wants to work out what he wants to do with the business before making the next move. And it is now common knowledge that he thinks the firm has been too conservative with risk lately, so presumably he is hoping that being closer to the action will enable him to pep that up a bit. 

Whatever he ends up doing, he needs to strike a balance between upheaval and stability. With everything that has been going on above him, a bit of steady-as-she-goes is sorely needed.

Say it ain’t so, John

What’s in a name? Joe Gold, the respected former CEO of Barclays Americas, was last year made deputy CEO of Corporate and International to support Jes Staley when he was looking after the division before Throsby joined. Once Throsby was on board, Gold headed out the door. 

Then there is another Joe – Corcoran, former head of markets – who has just been given a rather vague vice-chairman role. He is still there, at the time of writing. 

The Johns are doing better, it seems. John Miller has been given more responsibility. John Mahon’s move to running the corporate bank is a bit sideways, but it is still a proper job and, if the bank is to be believed, only getting more important. Oh, and didn’t Barclays have a CEO of corporate banking not so long ago? Indeed, John Winter.

Which leaves Joe McGrath as the odd one out – a Joe who has been moved into an unquestionably crucial role, even if it is sort of what he was doing until last year. So far, it looks like he is fending off the challenge of people called John and avoiding the fate of the people called Joe. 

But you can never be too complacent. Surely Joe should consider John McGrath as a wise precaution?