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Barclays' junior bankers are not all in approval of the new staffing system

If you're a junior banker at Barclays in Europe, the way you're staffed on deals is changing.

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Until now, Barclays assigned its junior bankers in Europe to deals using a system of "staffers" (usually junior vice presidents) embedded in deal teams. Juniors at the bank say each team had one or two such staffers, and that they were dispersed throughout each sector and country team.

Not any more. Barclays isn't commenting, but we understand that the British bank has instead switched to a central staffing model run by only two vice presidents and two managing directors. Under the new system, any task taking more than one hour must be assigned using the new central system. The intention is to provide consistent staffing where needed and to ensure that junior bankers receive broad development, deal experience and training. 

Juniors at the bank say the change was proposed by a few very senior bankers who have pushed the idea through and are "standing firmly behind it." It comes as Barclays' banking business continues to lose staff in the US and has ceded its top spot in the UK to JPMorgan. If banking fees don't pick up, Barclays has threatened to cut another £1.7bn in costs. 

Insiders at the bank say the new system should have some merits. Until now, they say that deals could be staffed with analysts and associates from multiple sector, country and product teams with the result that accountability wasn't always clear and that some individuals ended up doing things outside their area of expertise. In the future, the hope is that staffing will be much tighter and that deals will have smaller and more dedicated teams. "If something goes wrong, you will know where to point the finger because there's a small team involved," observes one insider. 

However, the new system may also bring some disadvantages.

The main fear is that it introduces a level of centralized bureaucracy to something previously dispersed and organic. Under the new system, senior Barclays bankers who need something done will need to submit requests to the central system instead of going directly to their own staffers. The response time from that system has reportedly been set up at up to four hours, which some see as too long. "Sometimes you need things a lot sooner than that," says one senior Barclays banker in London. 

At the same time, there's a fear that the centrally allocated staff will be less suited to the job. "Someone who's not in touch with your team will be doing the staffing," says the Barclays insider. " - You could end up with a very suboptimal solution." 

Barclays' juniors are also apprehensive about the change. Under the previous system, the single team they worked for had ownership of their development. There are fears that this accountability will be broken and that the central committee will take a less active role in their careers. 

Most of all, though, there are fears about working hours. Barclays isn't introducing time sheets along with the new system and is understood to be leaving it to juniors to register the extent to which their capacity is being used. "One junior banker who's working 50 hours a week on two deals could say they're as busy as another who's being ruined with 80 hour weeks," says one insider. "There's no standardization."

The suspicion is that Barclays has introduced the new system as it seeks to raise revenues without cutting costs. It's thought that Credit Suisse briefly introduced something similar.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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