Breakingviews

Barclays’ trading woes offset pay restraint

March 3, 2015

The UK bank has cut investment bank bonuses by a quarter, atoning for a PR gaffe last year when pay rose despite a drop in profit. But 2014 results show returns in the unit are also lower. To maintain its turnaround, Barclays may have to shrink the misfiring division further

FX fines are wake-up call on self-policing

November 12, 2014

The $3.4 bln settlement for five banks works out on average at 20 pct higher than Libor – because the firms failed to mend their ways. Regulators are seeking yet tougher internal controls. Banks have a last chance to show they can treat clients fairly.

Bankers get painful and needed conflicts reminder

October 13, 2014

A $76 mln penalty against RBC for working both sides of a deal is the latest blow to skewed loyalties. Even with recent slaps at Goldman and Barclays, it isn’t clear the message is reaching Wall Street. Delaware courts seem up to the task of delivering it as loudly as it takes.

UK banks have much to fear from latest probe

July 18, 2014

Britain’s top antitrust watchdog has warned lenders to expect a full-blown competition investigation. Forced divestments would be a surprising outcome. But given the persistence of concern in spite of past probes, investors should brace for radical, profit-sapping remedies.

Barclays’ hit reflects investment bank fears

June 27, 2014

Shares in the UK bank tanked 9 pct after accusations of fraud in its “dark pool.” That implies a surprisingly big $6 bln hit. Fine inflation is rampant, and Barclays could suffer reputational damage. It’s a reminder: small investment banking businesses can carry outsized risks.

Barclays shows why it needs to do a UBS

May 6, 2014

The UK bank saw Q1 fixed-income revenue fall even more than forecast. Its Swiss peer didn’t fare much better, but UBS is already well into a wealth management-focused turnaround. While Barclays has fewer options, its strategic revamp on May 8 needs to be similarly radical.

Investment bank cull won’t protect survivors’ pay

August 11, 2011

Bankers who escape the summer cull won't escape the pain. While they will get a bigger share of the bonus pie for this year, it seems clear that the pie itself, and their slice of it, will be much smaller.

Barclays sets bar high and low for peers

October 31, 2011

Barclays' latest numbers add up to a curate's egg

Bob Diamond sets high bar for bank rehabilitation

November 4, 2011

Banks should serve a social purpose and meet real client needs, Barclays’ CEO argued in a thoughtful lecture. Though the change of tone is refreshing, lenders must now show that reality reflects the ideals. For Diamond, that also means exercising restraint on bonuses.

No winners from Barclays tax crackdown

February 29, 2012

The UK government has closed two loopholes used by the lender to avoid tax. That’s a setback for CEO Bob Diamond’s efforts to present the bank as a good corporate citizen. But by introducing retrospective legislation, ministers have made the UK tax system even more unpredictable.