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Barclays Optimistic About Future, Private Banking Sector Prospects 

Editorial Staff

28 May 2021

Barclays’ James Todd talks to Stephen Harris, publisher of WealthBriefing, about the bank’s success in this year’s European awards. He is optimistic about the future.

At Barclays we like to think that we are the best-connected private bank in the UK. And that means not only being large-scale and having access to a client throughout their lifecycle but also the multiple touch points that the client may have with a bank, be it through their business or mortgages or the commercial side of the bank. We think that having this large scale is vital to the type of clients that we have. It enables us to give them a first-rate service. It can be characterised as global reach but offering local and highly-personalised delivery within the UK.

This in some way accounts for the very high growth rate we’ve seen recently. With our products and services there is always someone else within the bank you can help.

At Barclays we have an unrelenting focus on clients and this is highly visible. And at the front of every discussion is the desire to instil composure and confidence into the investment process. One way we do this is by having a “brains trust approach” which produces “group think” by which we mean that we think together about a client’s needs, especially in the area of investment advice. I think that this is a real step forward.

To maintain the momentum, we have a clear focus on data analytics and this is helped by our data lab and is one way that we can stay ahead. We are, of course, mindful of the regulations imposed by GDPR in this regard.

We believe that it is important to engage and advise prospective clients early, as there are many ways of moving towards a business exit.

The head of Client Experience is a very senior role at the bank. Indeed, it was one of the very first of such roles to be created in the UK and this speaks to the emphasis that we place on it (WealthBriefing produced a research report in conjunction with Barclays over ten years ago looking at the role of the Client Experience in Private Banking).

Investment side
On the investment side, our discretionary investment team has been together for 15 years, demonstrating great stability and consistent returns. This has been hugely beneficial in times of market and societal stress.

It’s true to say though that size can bring its own problems - we are always looking to deliver a boutique experience for our clients and there is an inherent contradiction between delivering both a platform benefiting from huge scale and a truly individual tailored experience for the client. I think we have produced an excellent compromise – one that is in the best interests of clients above all else.

The pandemic has changed the world forever - and this is just as true in the world of private banking as in other areas of activity. We do think that remote working will benefit the Private Bank in many ways and can play to our strengths in client relationships. New ways of communicating provide the opportunity for demonstrating strength in intellectual depth in the larger players - and certainly Barclays will be aiming to capitalise on this by drawing together talented teams from across the globe for our UK clients.

Morale at Barclays remains high, and this is, in part, down to the engagement and visibility of the leadership team. In these times, mental resilience is crucial and this is recognised and supported at the highest levels within the bank. We’re very positive about the future and will be continuing with recruitment in the months and years ahead.

And, of course, we all draw inspiration from our clients who are by definition some of the world’s most successful and inspiring individuals. Personally, I also draw inspiration from reading widely about other sectors - most recently from journalist Matthew Syed’s writing.