A career banker who started at Barclays almost 30 years ago
Antony Jenkins, the new chief executive of Barclays, is a career banker, having started as a graduate recruit at the bank’s South Kensington branch almost 30 years ago. Unlike his predecessor Bob Diamond, however, Jenkins comes from the “safer” retail side of the industry rather than buccaneering investment banking that has caused Barclays so much trouble. He is the very antithesis of the brash American – a mild-mannered Brit who says he listens to rock to get pumped up for big meetings, but switches to jazz or classical music when he needs to think through a difficult problem.
“From big-hitter Bob to safe-pair-of-hands Jenkins,” said Louise Cooper, markets analyst at BGC Partners. “He is both a retail banker through and through and a Barclays man,” and his appointment “may even suggest that boring retail banking has become sexy again in the difficult investment and trading environment,” she added.
While Jenkins’ main expertise is in retail banking and he is seen as the best internal choice for the CEO job, Barclays’ chairman-elect, Sir David Walker, a 72-year-old City veteran, comes from outside and has spent much of his career in investment banking. The two will work closely together.
The 51-year-old marathon runner has been described as the “nice guy” of banking by former Citigroup colleagues, and as a family man. He is married with two children.
Jenkins, who comes from Stoke-on-Trent, had until now been in charge of Barclays’ global retail and business banking, including its retail business in Africa, and is credited with streamlining the division.
Jason Napier, banking analyst at Deutsche Bank, said: “He is well known to the market, businesses under his care have performed well, he possesses experience within and without the group, and his reputation and retail heritage provide a base for rebuilding the bank’s reputation over time.”
Jenkins has a masters in PPE from Oxford and an MBA from the Cranfield Institute of Technology, and started his career in 1983 when he completed the Barclays management development programme. He went on to hold various roles in retail and corporate banking. He moved to Citigroup in 1989, working for the American bank in London and New York.
He was lured back to Barclays by its former chief executive John Varley, who promised Jenkins a seat on the executive committee in late 2005 if he moved his young family from New York back to London. However, that promise was broken – another ex-Citigroup banker, Frits Seegers, became head of the retail and commercial bank with a seat on the four-strong executive board instead. Jenkins still joined the bank as head of Barclaycard and in 2009 his gamble paid off when he emerged as the big winner of a management shakeup and became Seegers’ successor.
“The first job on Mr Jenkins’ to-do list must be to get a grip on the investment banking business that is still one of the biggest in the world and a significant profit generator for the bank,” said Cooper.
“The loss of Bob Diamond was a big blow to this division so the key profit generating staff need to feel confident in the new CEO… Personally, Mr Jenkins needs to be able to handle media scrutiny and parliamentary questioning. He will need to get a grip on the current investigations and massive regulatory changes facing the banking industry. He must also get used to having a much greater profile – he is relatively unknown – anonymity has now gone.”