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Rich Ricci cashes in as angry Barclays’ bankers drown in sanctimony

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Figures released from Barclays yesterday showed that Rich Ricci, head of the Barclays’ investment bank, is still doing very well. Ricci made a £17.6m ($27m) windfall from selling his Barclays shares as they vested. Some of Barclays’ more junior investment bankers were not amused, expressing their ire in words that can’t be repeated in polite company.

While Ricci is cashing in, ordinary bankers at Barclays are being told the bank is on a “journey” to pay people a smaller share of the pie. As reported on eFinancialCareers, most Barclays’ bankers have less than a 1.8% chance of earning  a million in any particular year. During the recent bonus round, “the top 20% of people were paid. Everyone else was paid below market,” said a partner at one fixed income search firm, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Morale may be being further eroded by the values programme being put forth by Barclays’ chief executive Antony Jenkins and the his new head of compliance Hector Sants. Sants arrived at Barclays earlier this month (allegedly on a £700k base salary and a £3m total package), with a mandate from Jenkins to change the bank’s culture. Jenkins has said that he wants Barclays to be a ‘values driven bank’ in which all activities are suffused with principles of, ‘Respect, Integrity, Service, Excellence and Stewardship,’ and are based upon the notion of,  ‘Helping people achieve their ambitions in the right way.’ The Sunday Times reported recently that every investment banker at Barclays is being compelled to attend a three-hour training programme on what that way is.

“Everyone, without exception, thinks the values programme is nuts,” one investment banker in London who wouldn’t be named said.  “It’s also hypocritical – people seem to forget that Jenkins was head of the retail bank when PPI [Payment Protection Insurance] was mis-sold.”

Barclays declined to comment on reports of disgruntlement in its ranks, or on Ricci’s pay. One Barclays insider pointed out that Ricci was selling shares awarded over a period of several years and that this was not solely a payment for 2012. Ricci’s pay is also being squeezed, albeit from a high base: in 2010 he took home £44m in salary and bonuses in total.

One former Barclays trader in London said most Barclays investment bankers are too scared of losing their jobs to make a big fuss about either Ricci’s good fortune or the values programme. The bank is in the process of cutting 1,800 jobs from its investment bank, of which 990 will go in the front office with highly-paid senior bankers worst hit. The fixed income headhunter we spoke to said that even if they haven’t been cut, Barclays’ fixed income traders are keeping their options open: “Barclays is becoming a lot more cautious in the way it does business. People there are being told to take a lot less risk and are scouting for other opportunities because they’re uncertain about their future.” The UK Financial Services Authority (FSA) register shows that of 53 people who’ve left Barclays Capital since December 2012, only one has found a new job elsewhere.

‘Spin-off the investment bank’ 

The biggest risk for Barclays’ investment bankers is that Jenkins decides to spin out the investment bank. So far, there is no sign of this happening – in Jenkins’ recent ‘Transform Presentation‘, there was no talk of decoupling the investment bank.

Tony Greenwood, a former Barclays investment banker-turned head of finance at think tank the New Economics Foundation, said news of Rich Ricci’s share sale underscores the difficulty of Jenkins’ task. “I’m a big supporter of what Antony Jenkins is trying to achieve at Barclays, but I’ve told him to his face that it will be very difficult to transform the culture of the bank unless Barclays Capital is de-merged into a separate entity,” he said.

“You can’t change the culture across Barclays, when you still have someone like Rich Ricci with all his money and race horses, heading an investment banking unit which has historically been all about making as much money as you can,” said Greenwood.

Antony Jenkins didn’t back Ricci by name when he made his strategy presentation in February. Ricci subsequently said he was going nowhere. But as long as Ricci keeps earning big money and making headlines for owning horses named ‘FatCatintheHat’, he will be a reminder that Jenkins’ ethics programme seems to apply only to people lower down the investment bank.  Perhaps Barclays can stress one aspect of his social usefulness: Ricci’s share profit will net the British government £9.3m in income tax. 

  

 

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