Theoretically, there shouldn’t have been any jerks working in Barclays’ investment bank. Bob Diamond had a ‘no jerks’ rule, imposed by Bob himself as early as 2006. And yet – as BarCap’s outrageous Libor emails demonstrated last year, there were indeed jerks at BarCap – particularly in its Treasury team. Now it seems that Antony Jenkins, the new Barclays CEO and Bob Diamond’s replacement, is on a crusade to eradicate the jerks once and for all.
This afternoon, we understand that Jenkins will be holding a non-mandatory bank-wide town hall event to present Barclays’ new ‘Purpose and Values’. Communicated in a memo which you can read by clicking the following link [Barclays Purpose and values], these amount to ‘respect, integrity, service, excellence and stewardship.’ Jenkins lacks the panache of Diamond: unfortunately ‘jerks’ aren’t mentioned in the memo even once.
What makes Jenkins so sure that this new ethics-push will succeed at Barclays where the no-jerks rule failed? A Barclays spokeswoman points out that it’s far more comprehensive and covers the whole bank, whereas the no-jerks was investment banking specific and seemingly fallible. One recently ex-BarCap banker is sceptical: “Everyone at Barclays was well aware of the no-jerks rule, but there were a number of prominent jerks who continued to work for the bank. Generally these individuals were strong performers and very often American,’ he says.
In the old days, Barclays attempted to filter out jerks via an incredibly comprehensive interview process known as the CIDS interview. This went on for hours and hours and aimed to analyse past behaviour as a predictor of future failings. Under the new regime, Jenkins is threatening to eradicate everyone who doesn’t conspicuously buy-in to the new corporate ethos.”You won’t feel comfortable at Barclays and, to be frank, we won’t feel comfortable with you as colleagues,” he intones in the memo. If this threat alone is not enough, the memo also reveals that Barclays has made a new corporate video and will be training a ‘thousand colleagues’ in the new way. These thousand colleagues will be disseminate the new values across the bank.
Raouf Rumjaun, a strategist at RF Branding, a branding consultancy, says this kind of corporate cleansing is usual with a re-branding campaign (which is what Barclays is fundamentally engaged in). “A cultural transformation exercise will typically involve pushing the new message and brand values through everything from videos to screen savers, text messages, the intranet and posters internally,” Rumjaun says. He says this is all usually supplemented with ‘train the trainer programmes’ where culture carriers are coached in everything from tone of voice to the use of active and passive language at work.
Barclays’ investment bankers, meanwhile, are dubious about the changes. “This is merely confirmation that cash bonuses will once again be derisory,” says one. “If people don’t have those values, they should never have been at the firm in the first place – and that goes for any bank,” says another.