Rich Ricci, the last man standing from the BarCap old guard, has been thumping his tub. He’s also launched a reputation-based review of all BarCap’s business lines which has inexplicably been named after a fruit.
‘Project Mango’ is being undertaken by Rich with some assistance from Deloitte, reports the Financial Times. At the seed of the mango-project is a review of all BarCap’s business lines from a primarily reputational (as opposed to profit) perspective. Reputation-damagers will be cut, or at least trimmed. This means the future looks a little ambiguous at BarCap’s tax structuring unit, which has generated up to 75% of BarCap’s profits in the past but has also been the source of opprobrium for its undertakings.
Profit considerations don’t appear to be entirely absent from Project Mango. The Financial Times reports that BarCap will also be curtailing its ambitions in Asian equities and M&A. 100 out of 400 Asian equities staff may be cut. 150 out of 250 Asian advisory bankers may suffer the same fate.
The FT seems to have had its own private briefing from BarCap insiders. However, Rich Ricci also made a speech and gave a presentation on his vision for Barclays investment bank. If you work at Barclays, or are thinking of maybe working at Barclays, this is what else you need to know about Rich’s vision.
1. He’s inordinately proud of Barclays Investment Bank
Rich Ricci’s speech did not give the impression of a man cowed and shamed into shrinking the investment bank by recent events. Quite the opposite. It was a morale raiser in retaliation to all those who’d say BarCap is finished.
The investment bank has historically “outperformed,” said Ricci. It’s been driven by a “force of incremental improvement.” Fifteen years ago BarCap was a mere sterling house, now it’s “premier full-service global firm.” The fixed income business is, “one of the best flow platforms in the industry, built to last, over many years of relentless client focus.”
This reads like a posthumous encomium for Bob Diamond. The implication is that Bob’s baby is safe with Rich: the investment bank is a source of pride and will be fiercely protected.
2. The investment banking revenue pool has shrunk, but not by that much
In 2001, the investment banking revenue pool was worth around $150bn said Ricci. By 2009, it was worth over $300bn. This year it will be worth $250bn and there’s not much chance of returning to 2009 levels in the near future.
Ricci didn’t say so, but juxtaposed with 2001we’re clearly still doing quite well.
3. Even in this shrunken environment, Barclays investment bank will be fine
“Only the strongest global franchises will be able to provide a consistent core offering in all three geographic regions,” said Ricci. “And Barclays is among a handful of organisations in that group.”
4. Barclays’ FICC jobs will be safe. Like Deutsche, it’s playing a waiting game until weaker players drop out
As we noted yesterday, Anshu Jain said in June that profitability at Deutsche’s fixed income business would improve as smaller players drop out. Ricci seems to be thinking along the same lines. Deutsche’s fixed income flow business has, “tremendous momentum,” he says. It’s, “incredibly valued by our clients,” and the strength of fixed income trading at Barclays puts the bank in an “excellent position to continue gaining share as the market displaces further.”
The implication appears to be that there won’t be widespread redundancies in fixed income trading at Barclays, but there may be pay cuts as the business waits for competition to falter.
5. Barclays has already been shifting to lower cost locations and shifting out of capital intensive businesses
This was part of the review ordered by Bob Diamond a few months ago. Barclays has been ‘”shifting parts of the business to low cost locations,” said Ricci, implying that operational roles in London may be at risk.
Businesses where the cost of capital is too high are being exited. This includes structured credit and securitised products, especially long-dated and uncollateralised transactions.
6. Pay will change, although it’s not clear how
Ricci is also reviewing how Barclays pays its investment bankers. He said: “We will look at: how we measure and assess our people, how we manage their performance and how we structure, calculate quantum and attribute rewards to ensure that our approach is consistent with the behaviours to which we aspire.”
7. Barclays investment bank is among the most cost-competitive firms in the industry
As part of his tub-thumping-morale-raising core theme, Ricci stressed repetitively how good Barclays investment bank is in relation to its peers. While other banks have allowed costs to spin out of control, Barclays hasn’t. The implication? This is an investment bank that you should want to work for and that will be around long term. There was no mention from Rich about those redundancies in Asia.