Barclays shrinks investment bank

Barclays is still struggling with their investment banking arms following another round of disappointing results.

The latest results from Britain's banks have triggered the usual row over bonuses and yet more "one-off" charges for various scandals but also some good news.

Lloyds managed a pre-tax profit of £1.8bn last year and announced its first dividend since its £20bn state bailout in 2008. Barclays saw a 12% increase in underlying profits to £5.5bn last year.

However, after a £750m provision for possible fines relating to forex-market rigging, and other one-off costs, the bank registered a small net loss. And both Barclays and RBS are still struggling with their investment banking arms.

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What the commentators said

"Financially, Jenkins is justified in saying the bank is healthier than it has been since the crisis." But pay per banker in the investment bank division has risen now that 200 staff have been cut. And the bills for misconduct and alleged fraud "just keep on rising".

Only more cuts will ensure that the investment bank produces returns to beat its cost of capital, said Allister Heath. This means Barclays has reached a "turning point". For the past 31 years, it has "consumed a vast amount of capital" trying to build a world-class investment bank.

But despite "coming tantalisingly close", it hasn't succeeded in building a viable alternative to Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan. RBS is also finding it too expensive, added The Guardian's Jill Treanor, so it's now slimming down to a presence in 13 countries from 51 in 2009.

There will come a time, warned Chirantan Barua of Bernstein, when "we need liquidity in this country and we won't have a British broker-dealer".

Andrew Van Sickle

Andrew is the editor of MoneyWeek magazine. He grew up in Vienna and studied at the University of St Andrews, where he gained a first-class MA in geography & international relations.

After graduating he began to contribute to the foreign page of The Week and soon afterwards joined MoneyWeek at its inception in October 2000. He helped Merryn Somerset Webb establish it as Britain’s best-selling financial magazine, contributing to every section of the publication and specialising in macroeconomics and stockmarkets, before going part-time.

His freelance projects have included a 2009 relaunch of The Pharma Letter, where he covered corporate news and political developments in the German pharmaceuticals market for two years, and a multiyear stint as deputy editor of the Barclays account at Redwood, a marketing agency.

Andrew has been editing MoneyWeek since 2018, and continues to specialise in investment and news in German-speaking countries owing to his fluent command of the language.