Barclays targets European private banking

With its performance badly impacted by the coronavirus, the UK bank is seeking opportunities in private banking services across Europe

Barclays has signalled its intention to enter four European private banking markets next year, namely Germany, France, Spain and Italy. Speaking to Reuters, Barclays’ private banking head for Europe outside the UK, Gerald Mathieu, said: “These are the countries where we see a lot of opportunities, also because we have a very strong footprint of corporate and investment banking locally.

“The idea is to have a capital-light approach and work in very close collaboration with the investment bank locally, targeting family offices, ultra-high-net-worth individuals, and some quasi-corporate or institutional clients.”

The regional head, who was previously CEO of Barclays in Switzerland, revealed that the bank had seen an influx of clients into Switzerland in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. He added: “The industry is facing global margin compression and very aggressive pricing competition. The private banking business across Europe is profitable, but we have to anticipate and adapt our business model to the challenges of these times.”

While Barclays’ private banking and trading divisions have performed well throughout the period of coronavirus uncertainty, the British bank as a whole has suffered. Profits attributable to shareholders fell by 66 per cent in the first half of 2020, with Barclays forced to set aside £3.7bn ($4.8bn, €4.1bn) in bad loan provisions. The company’s share price has also suffered amid the tumult, standing 42.6 per cent below its 2020 starting level.

By mid-afternoon, Barclays was trading up 1.7 per cent at 105.98 pence.

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