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What Diamond’s departure means for bankers in Asia

Black and blue.

Barclays hasn’t been having a great year so far. By now, you’ve probably heard of the management changes. Former CEO Bob Diamond has stepped down because of the ongoing Libor rigging scandal, while Jerry del Missier, co-head of Barclays investment bank and chief operating officer, also resigned.

In Asia, the firm has yet to reap the benefits of its costly hiring spree when it poached a number of top bankers from Morgan Stanley, including Matthew Ginsburg. The bank has made only slight gains in market share in ECM and M&A since. According to Thomson Reuters data last year, Barclays failed to make the top 20 for the equity and equity-related league table standings (excluding Japan and Australia) and placed 16th in the region’s M&A standings.

Headhunters are on the lookout

What will the management changes and an uneven performance portend for the firm’s employees in Asia?

One Asia-based recruiter who declined to be named says the firm is likely to be “ripe hunting ground” for headhunters. “They’ve hired some very good people. So some bankers may consider leaving.”

DCM is doing just fine

Another headhunter Rafael Brana, associate, Bo Le Associates, says the bank is likely to remain successful in attracting and keeping DCM bankers and debt market professionals. “Barclays historically is more of a debt house and debt markets in Asia have been seeing record levels of issuance. When you look at the DCM league tables, Barclays is in 7th place, ahead of Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS.

“According to latest figures, Barclays has gained market share to 6.7 per cent compared to last year. Debt markets in Asia are still under developed relative to the US and Europe and overall the debt sector has significant growth potential which plays to Barclays’ strengths.”

That said, Brana says it’s a completely different story in the equities and advisory/ M&A side of the business. “Barclays, like other banks, need to pare down their headcount in order to better match their expense base to expected levels of business demand.”

Timing is everything

Diamond’s departure at a time when markets are weak, allows the firm to be less vulnerable to attrition than it otherwise would have been. “I think the bottom line is there are other banks with significant scandals. So if Barclays handles Diamond’s replacement well and addresses the matter effectively, it shouldn’t be an issue, but if it drags on, it could hurt the business in the long run.”

AUTHORShree Ann Mathavan Insider Comment

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