Antony Jenkins: “In my early childhood, I even had trouble reading and writing” | Antoine Jenkins

On a sunny afternoon in Portugal in June 2012, Antony Jenkins braced himself for bad news. From Barclays’ offices in Lisbon, where he had flown to for a meeting, the then retail banking boss waited for regulators to announce that Barclays would be fined £290m for manipulating the Libor interest rate, in what was to become one of the biggest banking scandals. of the decade.

Turning to one of the compliance officers, Jenkins asked the hard truth: how bad would the Libor scandal be for Barclays? “I remember looking out of the office and having this conversation, and I could feel my heart sinking,” he tells the Observer.

In a bid to assuage public anger, Barclays’ board acted quickly, sacking chief executive Bob Diamond within days and appointing a successor untainted by the risky investment bank’s reviled image. . Jenkins, who came from the safer side of the business, was installed in August and tasked with repairing the bank’s reputation, which was in tatters not only due to the Libor controversy but also the mis-selling scandal. payment protection insurance (PPI). Ongoing resentment over the 2008 financial crisis only made matters worse.

“We literally had our staff mugged in the street, we had people mugged at charity dinners. We were in a bad place. And we had to do a lot to restore the company’s reputation,” says Jenkins. With morale low, he did his best to boost the morale of the staff.

“I had literally walked through Canary Wharf, floor by floor, picking up a chair and standing on it and just talking to people and saying, ‘Look, I know this is awful. I know the way we are characterized is very negative in the media. But we know the soul of this company has the right intentions…we will come out of this stronger,” he says.

These sermons, alongside his attempts to bring restraint back to banking – giving up millions of pounds of his own bonuses in the process – would help him earn the nickname ‘Saint Anthony’. But Jenkins’ dreams of restoring the bank’s fortunes during his tenure were dashed in 2015, when he was effectively fired by the board, which was unhappy with the pace of change and his plans to reduce the size of Barclays’ investment bank.

However, the Oxford-educated banker quickly bounced back and within a year had used £1m of his own money to launch banking technology company 10x Future Technologies, which now has some of the biggest banks in the world. including JP Morgan, among its clients. , and investors such as BlackRock and Canada’s largest pension fund, CPP Investments, among its backers.

But almost seven years later, as he sits in the boardroom at 10x near Westminster in London, it’s clear the pain is still raw. Jenkins has rarely spoken about his departure from Barclays and clarifies that he does not want to go into details in his first diary profile since his departure. However, he wants to clarify one point: “For me, at least, my departure from Barclays was very unexpected. The conditions surprised me because everything we ran was pretty much going to plan, and it was hard to deal with.

Jenkins admits moving forward hasn’t been easy. “It takes a lot of energy and I had a lot of support from people. Interestingly, when you’re going through something like this people can be absolutely wonderful and many have been. And some people give up on you completely. But when asked if he would change his strategy in hindsight, he is unwavering: “Absolutely not. I had to make a choice between compromising what I believed was good for the business, and I wasn’t ready to do that.

This resilience and firmness can easily be traced back to Jenkins’ childhood. He grew up in the North West of England in the 1960s, moving from Blackburn to Manchester and then to Nantwich. Sick and absent from school due to bronchitis from an early age, he soon fell behind in his studies and was forced to catch up. “I remember I was seven years old and couldn’t write my name, which was quite a salutary experience for me.” At home, he would end up listening to hours of programming on BBC Radio 4’s predecessor, the Home Service, which sparked a love affair with finance and the private sector. “It really piqued my interest in current affairs and business, and I always listened to business news as a kid.”


Age 60

Family Married with two adult children, four grandchildren and two dogs.

Education Nantwich Grammar school (now Malbank school); politics, philosophy and economics at University College, Oxford; MBA at Cranfield.

To pay Not disclosed. However, his stake in 10x is worth over £200million.

Last holidays Long weekend in Barcelona in October 2021.

Best advice ever given “Be honest with yourself.”

Biggest Career Mistake Not being able to convince Citi’s board of directors to make an acquisition in the payments business.

Word he abuses “Impressive.”

how he relaxes Running, listening to music and “spending time with my growing family”.

HHe says his father’s career as a production manager at a pottery factory also contributed to his budding interest in business. “It was quite fascinating to see a piece of clay turn into something physical. And it really got me interested in how things work, and also how to make things work better. .

Despite his early academic setbacks, he became the first in his family to go to university, studying at Oxford – a feat he attributes in part to free tuition policies. “I have been enormously privileged, and a real [beneficiary] of social mobility in a way that I think is less accessible to people today. After Oxford he became a graduate trainee at a South Kensington branch of Barclays in 1983, and after 17 years with Citigroup – including New York – joined Barclays in 2006.

With the Barclays drama behind him, Jenkins has built 10 times from the ground up to a business worth an estimated £600m after a £187m funding round this summer. The cash injection will help grow the business, secure more customers in Europe and Asia and propel its push into the United States, where banks’ aging IT systems will likely need to be replaced over the next decade. which marks a major opportunity for the cloud. technology based company.

“Half the time I really can’t believe I did everything I did. And I think back to my early childhood, when I really struggled to read and write,” he says. He says he’s the first to admit he’s had help, but still takes credit for his drive and drive – characteristics he says he now recruits for “on the job.” raw talent.”

“But I must feel incredibly lucky to have been able to do the things that I have done. They are intellectually fascinating. They are very challenging. You learn a lot, you work with great people and hopefully make a difference .

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