Who was Stephen Morse, head of compliance at Barclays Capital? And what has become of him now?

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Stephen Morse

Stephen Morse

Jerry Del Missier did much to implicate other people in the Libor scandal when he appeared in front of the Treasury Select Committee yesterday. First there was Bob Diamond (whose orders Del Missier said he was following). Then there was Mark Dearlove, head of the money markets desk, whom Del Missier said received the instruction to take actions that would lower Libor. And then there was Stephen Morse, head of compliance, whom Del Missier said was told about the request to lower Libor, but didn't seem to do anything about it.

Dearlove continues to work at Barclays, where he's head of global collateral and liquidity. Morse, however, left in 2011 and seems to have disapppeared. There's no trace of him in London and compliance headhunters say he's absent from their databases.

  • Who was Stephen Morse?

Fortunately, we got to talk to Stephen Morse before he left. In fact, we completed this full interview with him several years ago.

Therein we learned that:

"Stephen Morse previously worked for CSFB in New York in a global compliance role and, before that, for Bankers Trust and JP Morgan. Originally an LLB (Hons) Law graduate from Leicester University, Stephen moved into compliance in 1987, when the profession was only just becoming established and banks relied on law firms and accountants to provide compliance advice."

  • What was Stephen Morse's approach to compliance?

Morse told us a good compliance professional needs:

"A strong understanding of a firm’s business, products and strategy; a strong understanding of market regulations; and strong communication and decision-making skills. You also need to be able to think on your feet – the regulatory environment is continuously changing and what’s right one day might not be right the next."

He also said compliance isn't just about rules, but about judgement (which is interesting in light of suggestions that Barclays thought the Bank of England wanted it to get Libor down in a period of great stress for the banking system).

"There’s often potential for significant deliberation about the best course of action. And even if we do conform with regulations, there’s always reputational risk to consider – we can act in accordance with rules, but still do wrong in the eyes of clients and the public."

  • What advice did Stephen offer anyone else wanting to work in compliance?

Ironically, Stephen told us he was big on reputational risk.

"Familiarise yourself with business ethics," he said. "– compliance is increasingly a question of reputational risk as opposed to mere regulatory risk."

  • Where is Stephen Morse now? 

Having escaped at just the right time, Morse is now head of compliance at TD in Canada.

  • Lots of the compliance staff at Barclays were hired by Stephen before he left

Stephen left Barclays in April 2011 after spending 8 years there. Stephen was head of compliance, information risk and operational risk. In 2009 alone he hired more than 60 compliance officers.

  • Barclays mostly likes its compliance people to have regulatory consulting experience and accounting qualifications

The overall head of compliance at Barclays now is Mike Walters. Walters once worked at Deloitte, where he was a partner in the Financial Services Regulatory Practice. Mike is a chartered accountant.

Mike deputy is Karen Jordan, who also comes from a financial services regulatory consulting background (PWC and E&Y) and also has an accounting qualification (ACCA).

  • Is there much compliance hiring happening now?

No there isn't. "There's a bit going on, but not much" says one compliance headhunter.

This appears to hold true for Barclays. The bank is currently advertising 21 compliance jobs within its investment bank, of which only 2 are in EMEA. One is for a 'gifts' specialist. The other is for the anti-money laundering team.

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