Barclays' new managing director list reflects the bank's big issue now
Barclays has just announced its list of new managing directors (MDs) for 2018. Congratulations to the 85 lucky people, who are predominantly men, predominantly based in the U.S. or London, and are all listed below.
The new list should keep an important cohort of people at Barclays happy. In the past two years, the bank has done some big hiring. In the 19 months to October 2018 it added 50 managing directors to its markets business and 33 to its banking business. The new additions have prompted complaints from Barclays lifers that the bank is being inundated with new staff on big pay packages, whose (allegedly high) compensation isn't always justified - even though Barclays' equities business in particular has out-performed this year.
Today's MD list should go some way to placating the complainers. Some of those on the list are new joiners, but most are long-serving Barclays men (and the very occasional woman) who've worked their way up.
Most notably, the 2018 promotions have gone to a healthy proportion of people in Barclays' New York office who joined when the bank acquired Lehman Brothers in 2008. We count around 19 people - 22% of the new MDs, who cut their teeth at the failed bank. Some, like Ainsley Withey in the U.S. investment banking division or Manav Patnaik in equity research, spent years at Lehman before joining Barclays and finally making the grade. Others, like Eric Waters and Claire Pearson, were summer associates at Lehman Brothers in New York before joining Barclays ten years ago.
This isn't to say there are no recent hires on the list. Staffan Johansson has just been promoted to MD despite only joining Barclays in 2018 as head of M&A for the Nordic region. Jan Asboth has been promoted too, after joining from Macquarie as head of programming trading and high touch sales for continental Europe in July 2018. Barclays can still be a ticket to a quick promotion if you play it right.
Mostly, though, today's list contains people like Siddharth Mehla, an options trader who's worked for Barclays for 12 years, or Sita Noble, head of UK risk solutions, who's been there for 13. This is about rewarding longevity. Last year's Barclays MD list contained a high proportion of people who hadn't worked their way up at Barclays. This year's seems different.
The promotions come at a time when Barclays in particular stands to be battered by Brexit. As a UK-based bank, Barclays' share price could suffer disproportionately from the UK's messy extrication from the European Union. Nor will the bank be helped by a falling pound.
The elevation of large numbers of ex-Lehman people therefore looks doubly interesting. Contributing over 40% of revenues, Barclays' U.S. investment banking business stands to be an important stabilizing force in the next year; staff in New York must be kept happy irrespective of a falling share price and events across the Atlantic. All the ex-Lehman promotions might just be serendipity - it's 10 years since Barclays acquired Lehman and it usually takes 10 years to make MD - but they're also likely to be helpful when it comes to retaining key people in the U.S. franchise in 2019, particularly as many ex-Lehman equities staff at Barclays have disappeared over the past 18 months. Onwards into the storm.