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Why Barclays' Dena Brumpton is going to be in a real jam
13/07/2018 , Freddie Pooter

What a shame that Dena Brumpton is giving up her job as head of Barclays Wealth in order to retire from full-time work. Influential chums say her departure is a real loss for Barclays.

“She is a level-headed, smart and very experienced banker, with a ‘get on with it’ with minimal fuss attitude,” says a private banking head who knows her well. “We don’t have enough Denas in our industry.”

Her replacement is Dirk Klee, the operational head of UBS' private bank who was, corporately-speaking, thrown off the North Face of the Eiger earlier this year by the Swiss group. Dirk, a German, brings with him some key positives like IT knowhow.  At UBS, he was instrumental in getting the wealth arm into decent shape digitally in a $1 billion programme.

“(Dirk) will need to be a politician at Barclays in order to make sense of the internal competition in the bank which has resulted from the ring-fencing organisation,” one Barclays watcher comments. 

Dena herself has had the chief executive job of Barclays Wealth for three years, no doubt spending much time grappling with the rather contentious ring-fencing structure, perceived by some as an overly complex and frustrating barrier to efficient business. Essentially, private banking for much of the international clientele is headed by Karen Frank while Dena has run the domestic wealth franchise (although Karen can gulp some useful chunks out of the UK franchise when there’s an investment banking angle).

Current and present Barclays folk complain about energy-sapping internal competition between Barclays’ onshore wealth and Karen’s Barclays Private Bank and Overseas business.

Barclays has seen a number of departures to banks like Julius Baer, predominantly by those fed up with the two-headed structure.  Trying to back-fill these vacancies is regarded as a pretty thankless task as potential recruits are wary of being caught between the two ring-fenced businesses.

If that wasn’t enough, there was the need to cope with the parlous Barclays ‘not Smart enough’ Investor rollout and all the IT problems which has had clients leaving for rivals like Hargreaves Lansdowne. 

Barclays Smart Investor, successor to Barclays Stockbrokers, has been bedevilled since its relaunch by claimed issues like protracted transfers of assets to other trading platforms, delayed dividend payments, incorrect share prices and Key Information Documents missing for some funds and investment trusts.

Angered investor lobbyists are threatening to report the brokerage to the Financial Conduct Authority.

Says a friend of Dena’s: “It’s been a tough gig (at Barclays) but she keeps her lovely warmth and positive smile at all times.”

So, we must all wish Dena well.  She won’t talk about her Barclays days nor her future, but friends who know her well say she is very much looking forward to the next stage of her life, namely “spending time with family, friends, horses, dogs and jam making!”

She also has kids of secondary school age and wants to spend more time with them before they flee the nest for university.

The hint is that while Dena will be open to directorships at ventures that can use her expertise – she spent 30 years with Citigroup - no executive work will be on the agenda; at least not until she has cooked up a one-year supply of strawberry compote.

And what of Andrew Wheeler, one of the more distinguished members of London private banking who is leaving his role as business development manager of Kleinwort Benson? Some silly people think he is retiring in order to spend more time in his beloved Hampshire. Far from it, though Sphinx-like ‘Wheeler Dealer’ is keeping the identity of what may prove his new shop under wraps, for now.
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