A wealth of opportunities at Barclays

An interview with Mark Kibblewhite, MD of UK & Ireland Private Bank, Barclays Wealth
Asset management

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career path

I have been at Barclays since 1986, firstly at Barclays Capital (our investment banking arm) where I worked in a number of roles, culminating in the position of Head of Debt Capital Markets and Risk Management. Thomas Kalaris, our Chief Executive here at Barclays Wealth, who also spent many years at BarCap, invited me to head up the private banking arm of the newly formed Barclays Wealth back in 2005 and I have been here ever since.

Describe the Wealth Management industry in two sentences

For me, the two stand-out points about the industry are that it is constantly evolving and requires a huge range of personalities and skill-sets so that it can match its client base. The profile of wealthy people across the globe changes all the time and the challenge for the industry is to anticipate and cater to its requirements.

What is the one myth surrounding the Private Banking industry that you wish you could dispel?

The old clichéd idea of the stuffy private banker offering a rate on a saving account for a client in the morning and playing golf with his cronies in the afternoon is so far removed from the realities of wealth management in the 21st century that it really is time that it was confined to the City of London archives for good. The industry is now global, multi-layered, fast-paced and exciting - and the front-office relationship manager is only one member of a team that will consider a client's needs far beyond simple cash management. Alongside bespoke banking services, Barclays Wealth's proposition includes asset management, trust and fiduciary services, wealth structuring and planning, philanthropy and succession planning. We aim to provide clients the means to protect, grow, enjoy and pass on their wealth.

Why has Barclays fared so well against its competitors in the past 18 months?

In the course of the last two years, the markets have seen unprecedented turmoil which has had an enormous impact on the financial sector as a whole. Over the course of its 300 year history, Barclays has always maintained a strong balance sheet, a good credit rating and has consistently stressed the importance of risk management. We have a very experienced and talented senior management team in place, who were able to make sensible decisions at moments of extreme uncertainty and pressure. Some of these decisions, such as the one to acquire parts of Lehman Brothers, including its private investment management business, have meant that Barclays has not only managed to maintain its position in the market, but actually to grow many of the businesses in which it operates.

Why is Barclays growing its Wealth Management business when many other financial services companies aren't?

Thomas Kalaris made a specific pledge earlier this year: to turn Barclays Wealth into one of the top 5 global wealth management houses within the next 5-10 years. We feel confident in our ability to achieve this for many of the reasons mentioned above - a strong senior management team with a clear idea of what it wants to achieve and how to achieve it, the surety that comes with being part of the Barclays group with its global reach, and in particular our ability to combine with other parts of the bank, for example, Barclays Capital, in order to provide clients with the bespoke solutions that some of our competitors are unable to provide.

How do you envisage the Wealth Management industry changing in the next few years?

The winners in the next few years will be those firms that adapt quickly to the changed financial environment and grasp what it means for clients. Increasingly clients will require multi-jurisdictional services as they become ever more mobile. We are also likely to see the continuation of the emergence of new epicentres of entrepreneurial wealth in China and India, and again, wealth management firms must position themselves to be able to help people from these countries with new-found wealth.

What impact has the acquisition of Lehman Brothers had on Barclays Wealth?

It has the potential to be huge. The acquisition of Lehman Brothers' Private Investment Management business launched Barclays Wealth in the Americas region. Prior to the acquisition, we were in 24 countries but had only one person in the U.S., albeit with plans to grow substantially over time. The Lehman PIM business, by contrast, instantly delivered a largely U.S. business with a lot of international clients, who benefit from the global reach and platform of Barclays. This gives us the opportunity to be a major player in the world's largest wealth management market, and I'm excited to be playing a role in making this a reality.

What impact has the sale of Barclays Global Investors (BGI) had on Barclays Wealth?

Assuming the sale of BGI is formally approved, Barclays Wealth's access to product and investment expertise will be unrivalled. We will seek to build a strong partnership with the expanded BlackRock organization to create unique, powerful and bespoke solution for our clients. Taken together with the activities of our ongoing in-house Investment & Product Office, our clients will have access to "world class product" in every sense of the words.

What are the highlights of the Private Banking Graduate Programme at Barclays Wealth?

We truly believe that we have a best-in-class graduate programme here at Barclays Wealth which runs for 3 years. Firstly we run a dedicated programme for our private banking graduates, they are not just tacked on to the end of a capital markets programme as with private banking graduates in many other banks. There are four corner stones to our programme. Firstly, an intensive 7 week training programme in London for all our private banking graduates covering industry knowledge, soft skills development and Barclays Wealth specific product training. Graduates also undertake their first set of professional exam during this time. The second and probably most important cornerstone of the programme is the CFAâ„¢ (Chartered Financial Analyst) qualification. Graduates are fully supported through this tough qualification both financially and with intensive tuition and study leave. Thirdly, graduates undertake two 6-month rotations during their programme, one into our Investment & Product Office and one to an international location. Finally, we offer our graduates a dedicated mentoring programme to help them manage and progress their career.

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