Read James' Daily Telegraph article on Barclay's new Chief Executive and the future of the bank


ANTONY Jenkins joined Barclays in 1983 on the bank's Management Development Programme. A decade later, I started on the same programme, by which time he had long left the bank, not returning until 2006 when I had myself moved on, becoming an MP. But we had one thing in common: when we began our careers, we joined a management programme, a family, an institution, not just a bank. He is one of the old order, despite being in his early fifties.

Back in the mid-1990s the bank's strategy was influenced by management consultants and people from outside "the family". By that, I don't mean the old public school-educated families that used to own the bank - I mean people like me, with a comprehensive school education, who wanted to join a respectable company.

One management consultant quipped that he could tell who was bank and who was consultant by asking one question: "What sport do you play?" They all played individual sports; we were team players, playing together on the bank-subsidised sports fields in Ealing every weekend.

Martin Taylor, who led Barclays when I arrived, was an inspiration. Bob Diamond's style was different. He once quipped to his team: "An evening at home with the wife is a wasted business opportunity." To which I innocently responded: "Are you divorced?"

I spent 10 years at Barclays, working here and in Africa, but we could feel the bank culture slipping away. Too often it looked overseas for direction, bringing in people without a history in British banking or a responsibility to it. British banks should be comfortable being British and not always look overseas.

Antony Jenkins wants to return to a culture where we can again hold banking in high regard. But investors also need to be more responsible in their demands. You cannot produce a 20pc return on equity without taking massive risks. If Barclays had not taken the risk in the 1990s and delivered the returns the market demanded it would have been snapped up by a rival.

Some analysts claim it's now impossible to invest in banks, given the variable capital requirements and ever-changing regulations. By providing a more traditional, risk-averse, locally-led style of banking, Barclays could prove them wrong.