It all began way back in 1690, when John Freame and Thomas Gould start trading as goldsmith bankers in Lombard Street, in the City of London. In 1735, Freame’s son, Joseph, invited his brother-in-law, James Barclay, to join them as a partner, and the name has remained a constant presence in the business ever since.
Family banks like this one, though, found it hard to compete with the larger joint stock banks by the end of the 19th century. So in 1896, 20 small private family banks joined together in a move that created a bank with 182 branches, 806 staff and deposits of £26m.
Further amalgamations and take-overs followed and by 1920 Barclays Bank Limited was ranked third among Britain’s ‘big five’ banks. UK and international growth flourished.
By the late 1920s the first book-keeping machines had been introduced to branches, and from 1945 to 1948, the bank began to offer refresher courses to staff returning from war service. We appointed the UK’s first female branch manager, Ms H M Harding, at the Hanover Street branch in London in 1958, and established another UK first – a computer centre for banking.
From here, the firsts continued. The UK’s first credit card, Barclaycard, was launched in 1966, followed the next year by the world’s first ATM in Enfield. Our Business Advisory Service began in 1973, and by 1981 we were the first foreign bank to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington DC, USA.
On and on it goes, from the UK’s first debit card in 1987 through to 1995 and Barclays being the first financial institution to open a website on the internet. By 1999 we were estimated to be the UK’s most valuable brand, and by 2006 we were making half of our profits outside the UK.
In 2008 we were the first bank to launch a roll-out of contactless debit cards and continued to establish new locations as far afield as Pakistan and Russia. While in 2010 we had a new Chief Executive, profits before tax of £6.1bn against a background of tough market conditions.
Most recently, we’ve become the first bank to launch Pingit, an app that allows you to transfer money from your iPhone, Android or Blackberry to anyone with a mobile phone number.
Our vision is to make life easier for our customers, each other and our communities. It’s one of the ways that we’re going to become the ‘go-to’ bank. And putting the customer at the heart of everything we do has even brought us a few accolades: we won a Which? Positive Change Award for a number of reasons, one being that we reward branch-based employees for service, not sales.
So, we want to make life easier. But how do we go about it? We have a single cross-business Purpose for Barclays, and five core Values which underpin it. Our Purpose is helping people achieve their ambitions – in the right way. Put simply this is the answer to the question ‘What is Barclays for?’ and it should guide our every action.
Our five values are Respect, Integrity, Service, Excellence, Stewardship and they guide how we do what we do. Wherever we are in the organisation whether on the front line, behind the scenes, at the top or just starting out - we all have a role to play in making what we do simple and accessible for our customers and employees. When challenged, we act according to our values to provide great service. By bringing these to life every day in the way we behave, we can achieve our vision and go above and beyond our goals.
It means that simplicity, ownership, collaboration, thinking smart and lots of energy are the way we go about making life easier. Better still, it works.
That’s not all that sets us apart. Our customers come from a range of different cultures and backgrounds, and we reflect that in our interactions with them, whether that’s face-to-face, over the phone, or even the picture on a piece of marketing material. A diverse workforce helps make sure we have the insight to deliver differentiated products and services that matter most diverse markets. It also gives us different thinking, new ideas and fresh perspectives.
For 320 years, our success and longevity have been based on integrity and attention to customers and clients. When we’ve forgotten that, we’ve paid the price. The culture at Barclays is created through a set of values – which, combined with the right strategy, enable us to build a more successful business.
The values are at the heart of the business and help us provide solutions to our customers at key moments in their lives. What’s exciting about our values is that they were created and defined by colleagues who work in the business every day. They are more than words to us – they define a shared belief that guides Barclays to achieve our overall purpose.
Our purpose is helping people achieve their ambitions – in the right way.
Put simply, this is the answer to the question 'What is Barclays for?' and it should guide our every action. By 'people' we of course mean our customers and clients, but more broadly it also stands for every individual with a relationship to Barclays, including colleagues. But as critical as helping others achieve their ambitions is to our vision, we will not compromise our values to do so.
Barclays have undertaken a fundamental review of how our business operates. We have looked at the bank in terms of business performance and culture because we know that only a business driven by strong values can deliver strong, sustainable returns.
In January, as part of the TRANSFORM Programme, we announced our newly defined purpose and values across Barclays globally. These are fundamental to our long-term success and represent the set of standards under which everyone at Barclays will work, and against which the performance of every employee will be assessed and rewarded. We’ll measure and reward our people not just on commercial results, but on how they live our values and bring them to life every day.
The values we live by are:
Respect - We respect and value those we work with and the contribution that they make.
Integrity - We act fairly, ethically and openly in all we do.
Service - We put our clients and customers at the centre of what we do.
Excellence - We use our energy, skills and resources to deliver the best and most sustainable results.
Stewardship - We are passionate about leaving things better than we found them.
“For our values to have true meaning, employees need to live and breathe them.” – Antony Jenkins, Barclays Group Chief Executive
At Barclays, our purpose is to help people achieve their ambitions – in the right way.
That means helping our customers and clients achieve their ambitions. But it also means helping our employees achieve theirs.
My Rewards is our pay and benefits package. It’s designed to reward our employees for their drive, commitment and exceptional service. My Rewards gives them the flexibility and choice to create a benefits package that’s individual to them.
When new employees join Barclays, they are automatically enrolled in a core set of benefits and given a Benefits Allowance. Employees can then tailor their benefits to suit their needs, taking any unused Benefits Allowance as cash or using it to choose other benefits.
As part of our employees’ core benefits, Barclays will provide generous pension contributions, life assurance and income protection cover, as well as private medical care and 25 days holiday. Employees can also take advantage of a wide choice of voluntary benefits, with discounts and tax advantages on many of them.
Barclays understand how important it is to balance work with life commitments. We offer flexible working arrangements where possible, including working from home, compressed hours and job sharing.
Of course, we provide the full range of training and development for our people, no matter what stage of their career they’re at. It’s an ideal way to add to your skills, take on a role in a different part of the business, or move up.
For our Senior Leaders, for example, there are training programmes focused on leading and implementing change, while people who want to develop into leaders can take the four month Aspiring Leaders Programme to help them reach their full capacity in becoming a leader of the future.
There’s a Potential Leaders Programme too, which fast-tracks leadership development alongside our high potential people, and an Emerging Leaders Programme which aims to create transformational leaders out of people with proven ability and high potential. The Leadership Excellence Programme, meanwhile, will help our existing leaders be the best they can be, and people who want to develop their skills in coaching others from Core to Excellent levels can take the Coaching Excellence Programme.
We also have information, tools and support in our Spotlight on Your... Development resource, which is designed to help everyone manage their own development and career with the assistance of their team leader.
You can search for learning by our new shared knowledge and skills framework in our learning library. Put simply, 'knowledge' is what you know about and understand, and 'skills' are the ability to apply your knowledge and experience to perform different parts of your role. There are courses and information there ranging from Engaging, Motivating and Inspiring People, to Making Informed Decisions, Plan Effectively, Powerful Presentations, Managing Teams and much more. It’s all there to help you learn and develop.