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For Jes Staley, a graphical history of values buzzwords at Barclays

Jes Staley Barclays values

Good luck with the values revolution

Having survived his mauling by the grey panthers, Jes Staley is indeed to become the new CEO of Barclays. Tomorrow’s Barclays results presentation suddenly looks like being a lot more exciting.

In the meantime, Staley has sent a memo to staff at Barclays to introduce himself and share a few thoughts. Staley himself has a reputation for being highly ethical and clearly wants to set about improving the level of integrity at his new employer. “We must…complete the cultural transformation of the Group. There can be no retreat from becoming a values driven organisation which conducts itself with integrity at all times,” he declares in the memo.

This is a fair sentiment, but Jes should know that many of his predecessors have tried and failed to infuse Barclays with their own ethical ordinances. John Varley established a ‘Brand and Reputation Committee’ to make the bank a more ‘responsible organization’ back in 2004.  Bob Diamond established a ‘Citizenship Committee’ to ‘reinforce..integrity every day in the way we manage our business and treat our customers,’ in 2011.   Antony Jenkins presided over a Cambrian explosion in values buzzwords when he launched Barclays’ new ‘Purpose and Values’ in 2012, followed up with the aspiration of becoming the ‘Go to Bank’ in 2013.

Needless to say, none of this appears to have made a huge difference. Barclays’ traders manipulated LIBOR rates between 2005 and 2007. More damningly they manipulated  spot FX rates between 2008 and 2013 when Jenkins’ values evolution was resplendent. “The right values and culture were not sufficiently embedded in Barclays’ FX business,” declared the Financial Conduct Authority in its judgement on Barclays’ FX failings.

As the chart below shows, the usage and velocity of values buzzwords seems to have dropped off a bit at Barclays in the past year. Staley may want to remedy that. But he may also want to bear in mind that simply talking about values at the bank doesn’t seem to make that much difference.

Source: Barclays’ reports

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