Jes Staley profile: Barclays appears to chart new course for CEO

Barclays Canary Wharf

If Jes Staley is named the new boss of Barclays – as widely anticipated – it will be a case of second time lucky.

When Bob Diamond was forced out in the wake of the 2012 Libor-rigging crisis, Staley was tipped for the role, only for the bank to settle for the safer choice of Antony Jenkins, already running Barclays’ high street operations.

With Jenkins lasting barely three years before being pushed out to accelerate the pace of change, Staley now appears to be ready to take on a job at a time when policymakers fear bankers are pushing back against the regulatory changes imposed following the bailout of the UK’s banks, announced seven years ago this week.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts on 27 December 1956, and educated at small liberal arts specialist Bowdoin College, James E Staley earned his reputation as an investment banker during a 30-year career at JP Morgan, including a stint in Brazil.

Once tipped for the top and a potential successor to the irrepressible Jamie Dimon, Staley left in 2013 when JP Morgan was trying to recover from the London Whale trading incident, which blew a hole in the bank’s balance sheet and exposed management failings at the bank.

As he quit to join BlueMountain, Staley told the Wall Street Journal (£): “I think the Barclays conversations ultimately helped me define what I was really after.”

Three years on, the latest conversations appear to have been enough to entice him across the Atlantic – and away from his custom-made 90ft yacht Bequia, named after the Caribbean island where he honeymooned with his wife Debbie.

Maine Home and Design is gushing in its description of the vessel, which is reportedly moored off New England: “Most large wooden yachts built in recent years have interiors dominated by vast amounts of varnished wood cabinetry. Bequia is something entirely different. Most of her interior is painted in various shades of white ... it is a warm, homelike, upbeat space—a far cry from the sometimes oppressive atmosphere created by the dark, all-varnished interiors typical of many recent large yachts”. 

Staley’s own account is more modest. “It’s not a big yacht ... but it is a big boat,” he told Fortune.

Barclays shareholders – as well as policymakers and politicians – will be wondering whether the appointment of the globe-trotting banker will mark a return to the ostentatious style of bankers frowned upon after the 2008 banking crisis and even more so after the Libor-rigging scandals.

An advocate of diversity in the workplace, his brother Peter is a gay activist, and women have credited him with their promotions

He will have to step down as a non-executive director of Swiss bank UBS – a position he has only just taken on – but would working with another former JP Morgan Tushar Morzaria, hired in 2013 to work alongside Jenkins as finance director. He will also be in the same city as Bill Winters, the American banker he replaced as head of JP Morgan’s investment bank. Winters has just been installed as boss of London-based Standard Chartered.

Barclays handed Morzaria £3.2m shares to buy him out of his bonuses at JP Morgan, while Standard Chartered awarded Winters more than £6m of shares to buy him out of the hedge fund he joined after leaving JP Morgan. The price of hiring Staley at the second attempt is not yet known.

Powered by article was written by Jill Treanor, for on Tuesday 13th October 2015 11.00 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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