SIZE MATTERS - That is the size of my salary and that is all that matters, the little man can take a hike. Frankly, we don't care so long as our shareholders appetite for profits is satiated long enough for us to cream off some of the pie.





Barclays shares have tumbled almost 20pc within the past month, but this doesn't look like a buying opportunity, says Questor.

INVESTORS in Barclays [LON:BARC] should be careful what they wish for.

Former chief executive Antony Jenkins was sacked last July for too much dithering over changes its new chairman thought should have been made. New chief executive Jess Staley was cast as a man of action when he joined in December, but he’s not the only one on the move, the shares are down 20pc in the past month.


The impetus for change was started by John McFarlane, who was brought in as chairman in April last year. His reputation as a no nonsense City operator is well deserved, as Mr Jenkins was shown the door barely three months later.

Mr Staley intends to accelerate the turnaround at Barclays.

The plan is fairly straightforward, shut down a lot of overseas offices and instead serve these clients from fewer hubs in London, New York and Singapore. The aim is to exit the loss-making parts of the bank, reduce staff by 1,200 and increase the return on capital for the group as a whole.

Its investment bank operations in Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea and Australia are all being shut down. The Russian and Brazilian offices will shut and operations will be transferred to London and New York respectively.



John McFarlane


JOHN MCFARLANE - Laughing all the way to the bank. He earned the nickname with his promise to ensure ethics returned to banking when he replaced Bob Diamond as chief executive in 2012, and he has done much to change the culture at Barclays - except concerning re-opening accounts that were closed despite a customers specific instructions not to close. This was because the account was not making money for the bank at the time.

He has also removed some 19,000 staff, and was cutting Diamond’s investment bank from over 50% of the business to around 30%. But that was not enough for shareholders fed up with a static share price and a non-growing dividend.

John McFarlane has a record for making change happen. When taking over he identified that Barclays had a staggering 375 management committees. That was too many, and individuals need to be more directly accountable for their actions. He will concentrate on greater profitability and getting there faster. That may not be saintly, but it will win the praise of investors.




The hope is that by streamlining the operations and slashing away at the balance sheet the bank can become smaller but more profitable. The assets on the balance sheet are expected to fall from £1.36trillion at the end of December 2014, to about £1trillion by the end of 2018.

In a rising interest rate environment, the net interest margin should rise and increase the main source of income. Fewer staff means lower costs as well.

The pre-tax profits are expected to rise to £4.4bn for the end of 2015, from £2.3bn a year earlier. The hope among analysts is for pre-tax profits to steadily rise to £10bn by the end of 2018. That is an incredibly tempting prospect for investors with the shares trading at 178p at the end of last week, a 35pc discount to the estimated 284p net asset value per share.


There is also the added bonus that dividends are expected to rise sharply as profits recover.

Analysts expect the annual dividend to be held at 6.5p for 2015, offering a 3.7pc prospective dividend on the shares, before more than doubling to 15p three years later.

It is an intoxicating offer in a world of almost zero returns on cash.


The biggest issue for investors in bank shares is the risk to the equity of any movement in the asset base.

The shareholders’ equity in Barclays is £56bn, sitting on top of £1.3trillion of assets. Putting that into perspective, the equity is 4.3pc of the total assets. It doesn’t take much of a movement in the value of those mortgages and loans written all over the world to cause serious headaches for those holding the shares.

Across the world, the commodity downturn is wiping out bonds in miners, oil companies and shale drillers alike.

Questor believes that in such a world it is prudent to sit on the sidelines and wait to see what lurks on all the different balance sheets before buying into a turnaround.



Barclays Banks share prices 2006 - 2016





Building societies are owned by their members for the benefit of both saving and borrowing members. But building societies have been merging, have been taken over by banks and have turned themselves into banks. This study looks at what is taking place, and why.


It is one of a series of eight studies of co-operatives and mutual societies which were undertaken to determine causes of failure and reasons for success, to see how these enterprises were controlled and managed, to learn from the mistakes of others. What is taking place is fascinating and often unexpected.


The main report 'Co-operatives: Causes of Failure, Guidelines for Success' is based on these studies. Its conclusions and recommendations are entirely relevant and cover fundamental and practical problems of co-ops and mutual societies, of members, of direction, management and control.


Woolwich Variable Rate Accounts:


Fixed Rate Savings:

 Current Bonds in issue

Withdrawn Accounts:

30 Day Saver*


Premier Plus*

Premier Instant*



Previous Interest Rates:

 See historic rates across the range.


Barclays Stockbrokers, is a UK retail stockbroker offering a range of dealing accounts;  online and by telephone.


Key Features

  • Choice of dealing options, including real-time dealing and limit orders.

  • Online access to account valuations, breaking stock market news and stock recommendations.

  • Competitive charges with tiered pricing structure, measured either on the value of your deal or by the number of deals you make, depending on which account you choose.

  • The chance to beat the price displayed by the London Stock Exchange using Barclays Stockbrokers Price Improver.

  • Barclays research on the top UK and European stocks, with an opinion from its team of investment experts.

  • Easy to use navigation, fast loading times, and helpful demonstrations.

  • A wide range of investment choices.

  • Less paperwork - no forms, cheques or certificates to send when you deal. We take care of the administration, to make life easier for you.



Jes (James) Staley is the chief executive of Barclays Bank


WHO IS JAMES STALEY - James Staley, 59, is a former chief executive of JP Morgan Chase's investment bank. He spent more than 30 years of his career there before joining hedge fund BlueMountain Capital Management in 2013.

A longstanding lieutenant of JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon, Mr Staley was at one point thought to be in line to take over as chief executive of the US bank.

Three years ago, US business news broadcaster CNBC reported that Mr Staley was, in fact, a finalist for the top job at Barclays in August 2012 alongside his colleague Bill Winters. Both eventually lost out to insider Antony Jenkins. In 2015, Mr Staley was elected to the board of Swiss bank UBS to serve on the bank's risk committee.



The Woolwich - Watling Street, Bexleyheath, Kent  DA6 7RR

  Telephone number   020 8298 5000
  Web site address
  Customer Services   0800 33 44 99


The case below may be of interest to investors who may like to know how other customers have been treated .  If you have had a similar experience, why not email us for inclusion or possibly for onward transmission to the Banking Ombudsman.



F.A.O. The Chairman                                            Recorded Delivery


Co. No. 03295699
E14 5HP                                                            7 November 2005


Dear Chairman


Administration Charges – Woolwich Subsidiary, Eastbourne


I write with reference to two letters from your subsidiary The Woolwich dated 1st and 3rd November 2005, copies enclosed.


I have been a reliable customer with the Eastbourne branch for some 15 years or more.  On the 31st October I deposited £864 by cheque from the Prudential.  This cheque should have cleared on the 2nd November.  A copy of the deposit slip is enclosed.


In between these dates The Woolwich claimed two £30 administration charges citing Effects Not Cleared, dated 1st Nov and 3rd Nov.  It appears to me that any reasonable company operating for the benefit of the customer, would have held off honouring these payments, since it was obvious that monies were coming from a reputable source. 


Regardless, of the duty to provide an effective service to myself, £60 was taken from my account in respect of two cheques issued totalling some £145.  This must surely make your bank the most expensive service in Europe, and I wonder if this sort of conduct is becoming an institution, which, supposedly puts its members interests before profit?


Before passing this matter to the Banking Ombudsman, could I please have your substantive comments at your earliest convenience.


Please note a copy of this letter will be posted at and  as will your reply or absense of reply and any correspondence from other regulatory bodies.


Yours sincerely






Nelson Kruschandl


Please Note: this matter was sorted both reasonably and amicably - the banks could not be faulted, once brought to their attention.





Barclays Bank PLC is a member of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme established under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. In respect of deposits with a UK office, payments under the Scheme are limited to 100% of the first £2,000 of a depositor's total deposits with the bank and 90% of the next £33,000, resulting in a maximum payment of £31,700. Most depositors, including individuals and small firms, are covered. The Scheme covers deposits made with the offices of the bank within the european economic area and deposits denominated in all currencies are treated alike. Further details of the Scheme are available on request from The Woolwich by calling 0800 400 900. This Scheme is not applicable to branches in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.


"The Woolwich" and "Woolwich" are trading names of Barclays Bank PLC, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.  Barclays Bank PLC.   Registered in England.  Registered No: 1026167.  Registered Office: 1 Churchill Place, London E14 5HP.



A barn at Cowfold in Sussex






The first building societies were formed about 200 years ago when some people got together to co-operate with each other in building their own houses. Members regularly contributed to the society and built the houses together. Each completed house was allocated by lottery to a member. They carried on until each member had his own house. The society, the house-building co-operative, was then dissolved.


After a while building societies began to borrow money from investors to build houses more quickly and this was the start of permanent building societies, now simply called building societies.  Then about 100 years ago, most UK building societies stopped building houses and concentrated on providing capital for building houses, on providing mortgages.


Building societies are mutual societies, are owned by their members for the benefit of members, that is of both savers and borrowers alike.

Many people are tied for life to paying rent to, and so working for, profit-seeking landlords who are able to increase rents largely at will and who are thus absorbing any gains in income.   The building society movement, however, has enabled a massive number of people in the UK to own their own homes. It has been giving people something to work for and a sense of achievement from living in a house of one's own, enabling them also to save and provide for retirement and old age.


In the UK at this time are 80 building societies with 5,500 branches, having between them something like 30 million accounts (savers and borrowers) and assets of GBP 262 billion. Their net profits of GBP 1 billion amount to a net profit per account of GBP 35.

UK legislation regulates what building societies may, or may not, do. When banks started to offer mortgages, building societies were enabled by legislation to compete with banks by providing personal loans and other financial services such as current accounts. But building societies have been merging, been taken over by banks and have turned themselves into banks. Their number is reducing and branches are being closed down.  So here in this study we take a close look at what is happening by means of case-studies and draw some relevant conclusions.







While banks concentrate on maximising rewards for directors and profits for shareholders, a building society provides a service to its members. Building societies, however, have retained surplus funds and over the years built up massive reserves. Over 150 years, for example, UK building societies built up GBP 14.3 billion of reserves. There is much concern that this is being dissipated by conversions and takeovers.


Reserves increased to GBP 16 billion during 1994/95 and the Building Societies Commission in its annual report re-emphasised the need for societies to explore ways of distributing excess capital to members. While some societies have launched loyalty bonus schemes, others are considering paying a regular dividend, by issuing some form of share.


Maria Scott, writing in the Observer, said Building societies generally pay better returns than banks. But is the difference enough? Building society directors have paid lip-service to the ideals of mutuality for years. Even now, under siege from aggressive outsiders, none has come up with a way to release their substantial accumulated profits to members that would mark them out from High Street banks. Instead, they cut savings rates at the first opportunity.


A public company would, typically, pay half its post-tax profits to shareholders in dividends. If societies chose this measure, customers could expect somewhere between GBP 15 and 20 per account each year. However, building societies are not expected to follow this model and most argue that any annual dividend-style distribution would fail to impress customers.  Instead, they are working on schemes such as that announced by Bradford and Bingley last week that will pay sums running into hundreds of pounds but only if the investor keeps the account open for a few years.







What has been and is taking place seems to be as follows:



Banks concentrate on maximising rewards for directors and profits for shareholders.


A building society is a mutual society owned by its members. Both depositors (lenders) and borrowers are members. The mutual interest between lenders and borrowers is that profits are shared out between them. Compared with banks, the lender gets more and the borrower pays less.


Building societies have been retaining some of their surpluses and over 150 years have built up massive reserves.


A mutual society is run for the benefit of its members and its reserves were accumulated for the purpose of better serving its members and the community.

And so building societies became big, influential and powerful.



The Energy Age, Electricity Generation in Lime Park, Herstmonceux.


This book is about a building that is in dire need of conservation work. A charity that is doing its best to shore up the roof and walls planned to publish this volume to generate funds for the restoration effort.


At present (Feb 2016), Barclays Bank is holding up publication. They closed an account without consent and took the money in that account, with no provision to give that money back. In our book, that constitutes fraud. Both Jes Staley and John McFarlane know what their bank has been up to, but so far have not made any reasonable effort to help the charity concerned back to where they were before the breach of contract/discrimination.






Telegraph UK finance news Barclays

Telegraph UK finance Questor share tip Barclays shares look like a value trap

Standard UK business news Barclays chairman John Mcfarlane

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A rural barn that is ideal for conversion














With thanks to Action Groups around the world for the supply of real case history and supporting documents.