Monday 24 February 2020 8:40 am

Barclays prepares to begin hunt for Jes Staley’s replacement

Barclays is preparing to begin the search for a new chief executive to replace Jes Staley, making it the latest European bank to hunt for new leadership.

Staley, who has led the banking giant since 2015, has told colleagues he expects to leave Barclays by the end of next year, according to the Financial Times. 

Read more: Barclays boss Jes Staley ‘ready to talk to FBI’ about Jeffrey Epstein

The chief executive could stand down at the bank’s annual meeting in May 2021, the paper reported, citing two people briefed on the plans. 

Although a rough timetable for Staley’s departure was already in place before two British financial regulators launched an investigation into his ties with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, one source told the FT the probe had “focused minds” on Barclays’ board, and injected a sense of urgency into the process. 

Earlier this month Barclays said that Staley was under investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority and Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority over the way he had characterised his relationship with Epstein, who took his own life in jail last year while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, to the bank.

Barclays’ board is set to appoint an external headhunting firm to identify possible external successors to Staley, the FT reported, given the lack of internal candidates. It is thought the recruitment process could take up to a year. 

The search comes amid a time of upheaval among the top ranks of Europe’s banking industry. Royal Bank of Scotland, Credit Suisse, and UBS all recently appointed new chief executives. 

HSBC is also on the hunt for a new permanent chief executive, while ING is looking for a new boss after former chief Ralph Hamers defected to UBS last week. 

The search for a new Barclays boss is likely to focus on executives with experience of investment banking because roughly half the lender’s revenue comes from its corporate and investment bank, according to the FT.

“Given the business model of Barclays, the candidate needs deep experience of investment banking,” a source told the paper. “This raises the question of whether you can pay, whether you can buy out, if you go outside for an external candidate.” 

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If Staley has to stand down earlier than planned as a result of the regulatory probe, Barclays is likely to put an interim leadership team in place while it searches for a permanent successor, the paper reported. 

Shares in Barclays fell as much as 4.9 per cent in morning trading.

Barclays could not immediately be reached for comment.