Who is Jes Staley? Former J P Morgan chief executive takes reins at Barclays

 
Catherine Neilan
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He's a keen yachtsman (Source: Reuters)

It was widely rumoured for days before but this morning Barclays finally confirmed Jes Staley would be taking the reins at the bank.

He'll have plenty of work in his inbox when he arrives on 1 December. But what is his background and what are the key priorities?

Who is Jes Staley?

The 58-year-old is a banking lifer - he joined Morgan Guaranty Trust Co in 1979 fresh out of university. The Boston-born banker worked in the Latin American division as head of corporate finance for Brazil.

In the early 1990s he was a founding member of JP Morgan's equities business. In 1999 he rose to become head of the bank's private banking division, and in the next two years he improved profitability three-fold.

In 2001 he was made chief executive of JP Morgan Asset Management (JPMAM), and ran the division until 2009, swelling the AUM from $605m to $1.3trillion. He was named one of 20 hedge fund superstars at the bank.

In 2009 he was promoted to chief executive of its investment arm, where he stayed until 2013, moving to Blue Mountain Capital as managing partner. Earlier this year he was elected to the board of UBS.

He's also a keen yachtsman along with his wife Deby and a vocal supporter of the Democrats, having held a number of fundraisers for the party.

Despite his pedigree in banking, not everyone will be delighted by his appointment. Tory MP and Treasury Select Committee member Mark Garnier has already called for him to be hauled in front of the group to reassure them that his appointment would not "represent a shift in direction back to a more aggressive style of banking", the Guardian reported last week.

In March of this year, he said that banks were much better regulated than they were before the financial crisis and "significantly safer". But he warned that the growing US debt market could present a challenge, saying the industry should work with regulators to improve transparency, liquidity and efficiency in credit markets.

What are his priorities at Barclays?

Chairman John McFarlane - known as Mac the Knife for his ruthless management style - has already told staff that "tough calls" would have to be made in future. But what might they be?

Staff cutbacks are widely expected - there is speculation that as many as 30,000 jobs could be for the chop - so Staley will no doubt be looking to find where the biggest cuts can be made.

When firing "St" Antony Jenkins, McFarlane said a new approach was needed and has set out a three-point plan.

These are “to deliver on our strategy, with increased focus on our core franchise” - which could mean Barclays will sell off non-core parts of the business.

He also wants to “accelerate the delivery of shareholder value” - which could mean further costs are cut and could refer to headcount reductions and so on.

Lastly, McFarlane wants to “instill a high performance ethic and process across the group, underpinned by an enhanced values-driven culture”. McFarlane recently said that bonuses led people to cut corners.

Staley probably shouldn't expect too much time off over Christmas.

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