Barclays chief executive: We must regain trust

James StaleyImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Jes Staley: "We are working at Barclays to change conduct"

The chief executive of Barclays has told me that the bank needs to regain the trust of the public as he announced that profits had more than than halved in the final three months of 2015.

In his first interview since taking over at the bank in December, Mr Staley said that the core bank was performing well, but there was a lot of work to do "simplifying" the structure of the bank and improving conduct.

That restructuring will cost money, he said, and will lead to the dividend being cut for investors by more than half this year and in 2017.

The bonus pool will also be cut for senior executives, he said.

"We are working at Barclays to change conduct," Mr Staley told me. "I am truly dedicated that Barclays rests itself on the foundations of integrity and engenders trust from our clients, so the conduct issues will be a thing of the past.

"I do believe that trust is returning to our institution. But we will never rest, we are never done. We have to focus on building that trust every day."

He refused to repeat the pledge made by the bank's chairman, John McFarlane, last year that the bank's share price would double in three years.

The bank's share price has fallen 40% since the middle of last year. Mr Staley said he believed the market would respond positively to the simplification plans announced today.

On pay, Mr Staley said he wanted to pay "competitively" but he understood the public's concerns.

"In the last four years, Barclays' bonus pool has been cut in half," he said.

"But remember, we need to pay competitively, whether it's the branch manager in Manchester or the banker in New York."

Image source, PA

He said that Barclays would look to sell the majority of its Africa business, largely ending a historic relationship that goes back over 100 years.

"In the last three months we've had to make some very difficult decisions. We've pulled the investment bank back from nine emerging economies," Mr Staley said.

"On top of that we have made a very challenging decision to sell our position in Barclays Africa.

"The reality is, in this new regulatory environment, we carry 100% of the liabilities but we only own 62% of Barclays Africa.

"It truncated possible returns from investing in Africa.

"We have to take difficult decisions if we're going to get Barclays into a focused, clear business model that generates returns for our shareholders."

Turning to Europe, Mr Staley said that it was better for Britain to remain in, rather than leave, the European Union.

"We believe staying in the EU is best for our consumers and corporate clients," he said.

"Having unfettered access to the great economies of Europe anchors some significant benefits for the UK."