Monday, February 23, 2009

Who's afraid of turmoil? Not Barclays

In a slow market, not many investment banks continues to hire. Therefore this particular news sounds encouraging and I would like to share it with you, though it is quite Asia focused. For those who wants to start an investment banking career, you can still check out what kind of quality do banking bosses look for.

12 February 2009 - Straits Times
UK bank presses on with plan to hire up to 1,500 skilled staff here

BRITISH banking giant Barclays is sticking to its aggressive plan to hire up to 1,500 highly skilled staff by early 2011 in Singapore - despite the turmoil that has ravaged many financial institutions.

The bank wants project managers, applications development managers, and software and IT specialists for its Business Technology Centre at Changi Business Park Central launched last year.

Barclays has already hired 250 staff - mainly locals - and wants to increase this headcount to 650 by the end of this year.

'We need hundreds of people. So, in the next few weeks and months, we'll keep hiring as fast as we can,' Mr Frits Seegers, the chief executive of Barclays' global retail and commercial banking, said yesterday.

The centre will allow Barclays to run its international cards and banking platforms out of Singapore.

'I'm looking for the best of the best,' said Mr Seegers, who cited candidates having Master of Engineering degrees. 'But most of all, I'm looking for people who are passionate about their jobs...people who know how to win and survive.'

The new staff are in addition to the 2,500 that Barclays already has for its investment banking and wealth management businesses in Singapore.

Mr Seegers said the corporate bank team here, which comprises six staff including bankers, is also set to expand.

'I can't give you numbers, but we're going to grow it very quickly,' said the British-based banker.

Barclays - one of the few major British banks that has yet to receive an infusion of government capital - reported relatively strong results this week, with last year's full-year net profit down just 0.8 per cent from a year earlier.

Mr Seegers, who is forgoing his bonus for last year, said that to dwell on variable compensation is to miss the full picture.

'I have 130,000 colleagues, and many of them work in the retail network - cashiers, personal bankers, commercial bankers. The bonus for them is the difference between going on holidays with their family and not going on holidays with their family. They've worked hard, and I would argue that they deserve to be... rewarded for their hard work.'

Barclays, which snapped up small Indonesian lender Bank Akita last year, is not ruling out further acquisitions.

What about buying Citi's precious Singapore business, which will give Barclays an entry into the home loans and credit cards-sort of business here?

After all, Mr Seegers once ran Citi's consumer banking operations in the Asia-Pacific out of Singapore.

'I have an old rule, and I never comment on what I'm going to buy,' he said. 'My nickname is Discount Dutch. If you talk about what you're going to buy, it's going to become more expensive.'

Mr Seegers hinted that what he is looking for are 'networks' - basically banks with branches and a retail presence.

'People like to do business with us because we're able to turn things around in a short amount of time,' he said.

Investment Banking Resumes - News

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