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Key Learnings from Group CEO Barclays Plc

  Mar 16, 2012

Bob Diamond, the Group CEO of Barclays Plc gave a keynote session on ‘Lessons Learnt: Working towards sustained economic growth post the global financial crisis’ at Strathmore Business School on Monday 12th March 2012. The session which was moderated by Sunny Bindra had the following key learnings:

One Barclays, one Africa

Africa has come of age with increasing flows of capital from China, India and other economies coming into individual countries without passing through the traditional hubs of London and New York.

Barclays intends to integrate their business operations throughout Africa to provide financial solutions to corporate and individual companies throughout the continent. One of the latest developments is the installation of numerous ATM machines, a cost effective strategy of building their network in the continent.

Why the sudden interest in Africa?

Momentum has been building over time. The world has come to the realization that political risks in Africa are manageable e.g. when Kenya went through a crisis in 2008 which the country has, since then, come out of.

There are vibrant business activities that generate even more business (business begets business) which leads to growth at the local and regional levels.

Barclays keys to future growth

As an organisation, Barclays is focused on execution of their strategy, defined as delivering on promises made to their stakeholders, on a day to day basis in the following areas:

  • Capital, liquidity and funding
  • Ensuring adequate returns
  • Generating income by driving their customers businesses
  • Corporate citizenship – how they make decisions, how they interact with the surrounding community and how they give back to society. It was observed that a significant number of Barclays staff in Kenya give their own time to social responsibility.
  • Was the global financial crisis caused by greedy bankers / short term thinking?

    There were a variety of factors that led to the 2007/8 market crash.

  • Poor management of some, not all, financial institutions some of it occasioned by inept regulation and the notion that some organizations were too large to be allowed to fail.
  • Questionable public policy e.g. the move by Congress to ensure that everyone in the USA should be enabled to own a home which proved unrealistic.
  • The effect (loss of public confidence) the collapse of financial institutions e.g. RBS, Lloyds in the UK had on other players like Barclays even though they were not financially unstable.
  • Why is Europe in such financial disarray?

    The seeds for the current crises were sown in 1947 after the end of WW2 as a result of policies driven by fear of the dominance of the USA and other Eastern Economies. The challenges of financial integration are more economic than political and the effects e.g. austerity measures in Greece will be long term (for the next 20 – 30 years). However, the issues need to be addressed urgently because there are social consequences to problems like joblessness among the youth.

    What have we learned from the financial crisis?

  • That inefficient organisations need to be allowed to fail regardless of their size.
  • That it is beneficial to maintain higher cash reserves to ensure that the organization remains liquid.
  • That the free enterprise system is resilient.
  • Who is Bob Diamond and how is it being CEO of a multinational organisation?

    I grew up as one of nine children in Massachusetts. I worked my way through high school and college. My first job was as a lecturer in the School of Business, University of Connecticut. I have a very supportive family comprising of my wife Jennifer and three children.

    I loves Barclays and the people in the organisation. I am energized by the opportunities they have to be the best in the world in what they do, the challenges and the opportunity for teamwork.

    Click here to view the pictures of the day that was.

    By Peter Mutua

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