Fear for Barclays jobs as Tim Throsby disappears

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Steven Valiquette Barclays

Say what you want about Tim Throsby, but it would be hard to argue that he hasn't been a great thing for jobs at Barclays' investment bank, both in London and in New York.

In the two years since Throsby became CEO of Barclays' investment bank, the business has been on a hiring binge. Between January 2017 and February 2019, Barclays added over 30 managing directors to its 'banking' (M&A, ECM and DCM) business and over 50 managing directors to its markets business.  

Many of those hires were initiated by Throsby himself. - In May 2017, rumours began circulating that Throsby wanted to hire between 50 and 100 people to Barclays' investment bank. In a subsequent presentation in September 2017, Throsby outlined his strategy to build-out the markets division, to regain Barclays' position in rates and credit, to 'restore' its excellence in electronic equities, to take more risk and to allocate more capital to the business.

Throsby's aspiration was to achieve a 10% return equity at Barclays' investment bank. The hope was that all those hires, all that risk taking, and all that new capital would drive higher revenues and that these in turn would feed through to higher returns.

Fast forward sixteen months and the divisional return on equity at Barclays' investment bank is still just 7.1%. Equities revenues were up 29% on 2016 last year, but - after all that hiring - fixed income currencies and commodities revenues were down 18%.

In his statement today on Throsby's exit, Barclays' CEO Jes Staley said the bank needs, "a more granular execution focus" on the corporate and investment bank if it's to drive returns above the cost of capital. For the moment, Stephen Dainton, global head of equities, will be head of markets - but Barclays is open to hiring externally for the role longer term.

Inside Barclays, Throsby's exit has come as a surprise. He and Staley worked together previously at Barclays and the exit has a whiff of filicide. One MD professed to be "shocked" by the move. Others muttered about recent trading losses and compliance failings. Suddenly, the golden child is no more.

The fear now has to be whether all Throsby's hires will survive his exit. At least 80 MDs in Barclays' investment bank now have reason to look over their shoulder. Rumours are already circulating that key Throsby hires - most notably Guy Saidenberg, whom Barclays hired as head of distribution and structuring from Goldman Sachs in November 2017, are also on their way out.

Barclays declined to comment. 

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