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After spending his first six months on the job speaking about cultural change at scandal-plagued Barclays PLC, Chief Executive Officer Antony Jenkins on Tuesday will unveil a plan that is expected to leave the bank’s strategy largely intact, according to people briefed on the matter.
But wait! Barclays can change in all the ways that it thinks matter to you and the British government, if not to its shareholders.
Other changes are driven more by polishing the bank’s tarnished image than they are by the need to boost profits. A few business lines that don’t seem “socially useful” are likely to end up on the chopping block, executives say.
For example, Barclays plans to retreat at least in part from the lucrative trading of “soft commodities” such as coffee, executives say. That is a concession to mounting criticism that speculative trading in those commodities contributes to food-price inflation. “We’re a big player, but does it pass the smell test of what society would think of this?” a senior executive said.
Mr. Jenkins is also expected to trumpet plans to dramatically scale back Barclays’s tax-planning business, in which it advises clients on how to minimize their tax burdens. The bank will no longer help clients put together transactions that have no business purpose other than reducing taxes.
“Such activity is incompatible with our purpose,” Mr. Jenkins will say on Tuesday, according to the extract of his speech.
Alas, it must be said that Mr. Jenkins seems to have learned a funny definition of the word “incompatible” at Oxford.
But the bank isn’t expected to exit the business altogether. It will continue to offer tax-minimizing advice. People familiar with the matter say the business has been hiring employees recently.
Makeover at Barclays Won’t Be Extreme (and why ever would it?) [WSJ]