How Jes Staley made Barclays' investment bank into a big payer

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Barclays salaries and bonuses

Employees of Barclays' corporate and investment bank (CIB) should give Barclays' CEO Jes Staley a nod of appreciation. Thanks to Jes, Barclays has become one of the most generous banks around. Pre-Jes, this was not at all the case.

Last week, Barclays revealed that it increased its bonus pool for the first time in five years for 2018.  The bank also divulged that its CIB employs 910 material risk takers (MRTs, typically managing directors and senior traders and compliance staff) and that last year they each got an average salary of £490k ($641k), plus an average bonus of £556k ($726k), taking their total compensation to an average of $1.37m.

As the chart below shows, this makes Barclays pretty generous among the UK headquartered investment banks in 2018. U.S. investment banks have yet to divulge how much they paid their material risk takers for last year, but with average pay per head of $1.4m, Barclays also seems to pay its elite a lot more than - say - Goldman Sachs, which awarded its average UK-based material risk taker $1.16m for 2017.  

Jes seems to have engendered this generosity. Due to changes in the way Barclays reports its compensation figures, it's hard to establish exactly how much Barclays paid the average MRT in its investment bank before Jes arrived. However, we do know that pre-Jes, 323 people at Barclays received compensation in excess of £1m in 2015; last year 430 people did. - An increase of 33%. 

Under Jes Staley, Barclays has also seen a dramatic increase in compensation for its very best performers. Sixteen people across the bank received pay in excess of £5m last year. In 2015, just five did. 

Staley also got rid of a punitive deferral programme introduced by his predecessor. Between 2013 and 2016, Barclays deferred 100% of all bonuses above £250k and 100% of all bonuses for managing directors. Staley stopped this in the 2017 bonus round, and today 100% deferrals at Barclays only apply to bonuses in excess of £1m. 

Staley himself received plaudits from the Barclays board for all his hard work with the corporate and investment bank in 2018. "Jes Staley has been instrumental in upgrading key talent that has led to strong performance in the Markets business which has increased market sharea in each asset class and delivered five consecutive quarters of outperformance vs peers,"  noted the remuneration commitee, awarding him 17% out of a potential 20% for his achievement of 'personal goals' as a result. 

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