Barclays to Fire One-Third of U.K. Private Bankers

Barclays Plc (BARC), Britain’s second-biggest lender by assets, plans to fire almost 100 U.K. private bankers as it cuts costs at its wealth-management unit and will close a separate call center.

The bank will reduce the number of relationship managers to about 180 from 275, Will Bowen, a spokesman for London-based Barclays, said in an e-mail today. The bankers, who oversee some of Barclays’s accounts with rich individuals and families in the U.K., may leave the company by February, he said.

“We are making changes to the way we service our affluent clients in the U.K., and as a consequence a number of private-banking and support roles will no longer be required,” Bowen said. “Wealth and investment management continues to be a key area of growth within Barclays.”

Barclays is cutting wealth-management services as it seeks to improve profitability, a person with knowledge of the matter said in September. The business known as Wealth & Investment Management will reduce the number of countries in which clients receive services to 70 from as many as 200, the person said. The bank is the U.K.’s second-largest wealth manager with more than 50 billion pounds ($80 billion) of client assets, according to PAM Insight, a London and Geneva-based research firm.

Less Affluent

Barclays also plans to stop servicing customers with less than 500,000 pounds of invested assets with the same degree of relationship management offered to millionaires in an effort to reduce the cost of advising less affluent clients.

The cuts in private banking, which were reported yesterday by Citywire, follow the departures in September of executives including Emmanuel Fievet, the former head of wealth management for the U.K. and Europe, and Stefanie Drews, who ran the bank’s business for ultra-wealthy clients and family offices. Patrick Ramsey, head of Switzerland, quit in July.

Barclays is also closing a consumer-banking call center in Coventry, England, by June 2014, the bank said in a statement today. As many as 350 jobs may be eliminated, Unite, a labor union, said in a statement. Some positions will be relocated to other sites, according to the bank.

To contact the reporter on this story: Giles Broom in Geneva at gbroom@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net

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