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Diary of a Private Banker: Barclays' Little Book of Wonders
01/08/2014 , Freddie Pooter

Very unfairly, poor old Barclays Wealth continues to be the centre of ribaldry in the more disrespectful London private banking circles.  What absolute rotters.

Their latest lampoon suggests that BarWealth is turning out to be somewhat like the ill-fated Costa Concordia, whose captain hurriedly abandoned the stricken ship well before the rest of the crew and passengers (allegedly). 

Chief executive Peter Horrell, who has served more than 20 years before the Barclays mast,  is in fact staying firmly on the bridge until the year-end and is due to hand over to a successor in due course.

Incidentally, would Sally Tennant, Chief executive of Kleinwort Benson until recently, make a good skipper, particularly with her fearsome reputation of insisting on sparkling clean decks and high-polished brasswork? 

The Concordia is now being broken up for scrap – a fate which its detractors should note will never ever befall our splendid BarWealth, the second biggest player in UK wealth management.

Still, the major strategic overhaul of the SS BarWealth, including stripping her hull of accumulated barnacles, seaweed  and other detritus like talented people does have its problems admittedly.

The latest to walk the plank includes Sarah Newman, head of alternatives, Helen Posner, head of private equity, and Laurent Perusset, who headed the Swiss investment business. The global head of investments and solutions, Rory Tobin is also to take permanent shore leave.

And unfortunately, it will be hard to keep BarWealth on our radar screens once she returns proudly to the shipping lanes of private banking, as part of Barclays Personal and Corporate Division.  The unit’s specific financials are no longer being released and are now subsumed within the PCB business. So, perhaps more like the Marie Celeste than the Concordia?

Meanwhile, those far too keen to trash BarWealth forget a number of upbeat abilities it can command, not least the very successful Little Book of Wonders, an initiative to foster close and cordial relationships with the ultra-filthy clients and their families.
 
Barclays has partnered with a number of luxury brand providers to launch this digitally-hosted platform for clients offering a range of jolly exciting experiences.

Clients can select up to five complimentary experiences per year, spanning 12 ‘lifestyle areas’ that include home, family, philanthropy, cars, boats and bikes, alongside arts and culture. On some occasions, Barclays contributes towards the cost of the experience, alongside the corporate partner.

Barclays offers, for example its punters and their kids the chance to learn how to make Easter eggs in the kitchen at Claridges through its Little Book. Other goodies include a private viewing of the Crown Jewels, alongside a private tour of the Churchill War Rooms for the history buffs.

And if clients are very, very good (and exceptionally rich), why, they can even meet a BarWealth adviser when one occasionally becomes available.

Citi Private Bank - why not give the Brits their turn?

The chief executive seat at Citi Private Bank has become vacant, as incumbent Mark Mason shifts moves to take over the CFO role at the Citi Institutional clients group.

Frankly, Citi has not had a charismatic leader for its private bank for some considerable time. Several of them have been solid men and women corporate apparatchiks whose job, it appears, has largely been to keep things nice and buttoned down as Citigroup recovers from the excesses of recent years with a range of, er...sanitation measures across the group.

Now, Citi seems to be rediscovering an appetite for global private banking – it recently boasted of accumulating $250 billion of assets in Asia between the private bank and its sister mass affluent Citigold service.

So why not put someone in charge who has a real international focus and, unlike many good ole American boys, can actually find Canada and Mexico on the map?

Step forward David Poole, who has done such a splendid job of keeping Citi with skin in the game in Europe. Alternatively, of course, there’s Peter Charrington, who moved over the pond to become chief executive of Citi Private Bank, North America.

Pip pip


 

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