As Barclays Wealth in Gibraltar continues to roll out its range of services for individuals and local businesses, the peninsula’s largest bank is also boosting local staffing levels. One recent arrival on the Rock is Lee Francis who will be the bank’s Director responsible for Business Management both locally and also for Cyprus. It is part of Barclays Wealth’s ongoing commitment to ensure that as many of the bank’s services available elsewhere are also accessible to businesses in Gibraltar.
This follows on from the great IT migration project two years ago when the bank became seamlessly connected to Barclays’ global wealth network instead of pursuing its own locally developed technology platform. Taking a brief break from his busy schedule to snatch a quick cup of coffee Lee Francis quickly gets down to business.
“The migration project went down very well here and many of our customers are already seeing the benefits of being linked up with the bank’s global network.”
But it is not what the bank has achieved in the last few years that has Lee excited. It is what lies ahead.
“Yes of course there are all of the usual challenges that a new role entails: internal things like getting to know the staff, looking at skill sets and the external issues like the meeting clients, regulators and intermediaries. But what has struck me is the opportunity that exists here. It’s massive.”
“I have just come from spending two years in Cyprus as Country Director. Economically and geographically the two places are quite different – with Cyprus being bigger in every way. But Barclays’ business in Gibraltar is twice the size of the business in Cyprus. And I think that we can continue to grow at a steady rate if we continue to invest in our brand and to invest in our people locally.”
Warming to his theme he taps his paper cup as if he can barely contain his excitement. “Because of what has happened in the wider world in the last eighteen months and because the of the path which the bank decided to take as an institution, I think that Barclays Wealth is ideally placed to leverage the strength of its global brand and the Barclays network for Gibraltar’s business community. There are three sectors in particular where we see the greatest potential: in retail corporate among Gibraltar’s predominant small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) community, among intermediaries such as accountants, lawyers and fiduciary services and finally among High Net Worth Individuals”.
When asked about who is servicing these various sectors currently he says that the offering is a mixed bag from a number of local providers. “I am not for one minute suggesting that these groups have been neglected until now. It is just that I know if we can match local knowledge and the power of those local relationships, which many of our team have, with improved product knowledge of what Barclays Wealth can offer, I am sure that our clients will benefit hugely and the bank and our staff will benefit too.”
What is clear about Lee is that apart from being extremely driven and knowing what he wants, he is also very certain about how he intends to achieve it.
“I am a firm believer in training and development. It is not always easy and it is certainly not cheap. But it is really one of the few ways to sustain and grow your business over time. It is also one of the best ways to attract and retain staff. It shows you value them and what they can bring to business and this feeds on itself. One of the things I have been spending time on since my arrival is assessing skill sets and seeing what additional training people need. I am also very keen to make sure that our people really understand the power of effective teamwork. A lot of organisations say this but relatively few really practise it consistently and so the benefit is soon lost. I want the words “teamwork” and “service” to become synonymous for Barclays Wealth in Gibraltar. But we can only achieve this if we continue to invest in our people.”
Lee says that as a policy he has a preference for developing staff from within the bank. He also has a preference for employing local staff where possible rather than bringing people in from outside – the power of local knowledge and those all-important relationships again. However, there have already been some new additions to the team. They have been brought onboard because of the strong client relationships they have or particularly because of their international experience.
“One has to strike the right balance. Local knowledge and relationships are critical. However, we also need to ensure that these are complemented by specialist product knowledge or by internal relationships within Barclays’ global network. Barclays Wealth is the UK’s largest wealth manager and is one of the largest financial institutions in the world with total client assets of £145bn. We have offices in over 25 countries and are backed by the Barclays Group. There are very few if any other providers who can match the strength and expertise that Barclays Wealth offers.”
“We have been in Gibraltar for over 120 years and we have deep roots in this country. We lend, invest, move and protect money for over 48 million clients worldwide and in these turbulent times our clients want to deal with a bank they can trust.”