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Guest Post: Robert Sutherland Smith is worried about Barclays

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- Tom Winnifrith

Robert Sutherland Smith started his City career the year before I was born. He is, I think, 157 years old. He and I have worked together for almost eight years at t1ps.com . He is my friend and he is a very funny and intelligent chap. He is now branching out to celebrate his 158th by doing some freelance writing over at TradingResearchPoint on FTSE 350 Income stocks. Robert is a speaker at the UKInvestor Show on April 13th. He is a great one for focussing on yield. RSS today looks at Barclays.

The market response to the Barclay’s 2012 figures and accompanying strategic review out to 2015 was good enough to suggest that the Quakers had returned to run the fallen bank to restore those long lost standards of Quaker ethics, which had once prompted customers to beat a pathway to the bank’s door. No Quaker would have fiddled Libor. But in their absence (assuming that he is not in fact a Quaker) Barclay’s new Chief Executive, Antony Jenkins, was the next best thing.

He does a splendid job invoking a new moral high ground to which Barclay’s employees, drowning in ‘they don’t get it’ public opprobrium, may now swim. It was emphatic moral re-armament. The words ‘respect’, ‘integrity’, ‘service’ and ‘stewardship’ were picked up, recorded and reported by scribbling journalists. A job well done! But can words alone change the bank’s more recent culture of error when investment banking will continue to be such a big part of the bank’s business?

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