Sibos 2013, Dubai: Interview with Matt Tuck, Barclays

How many years have you been attending Sibos
and how has the event developed over the period?

I’ve
been attending Sibos for a number of years and members of our financial
institutions (FI) team have attended the event for 25 years, since its very
first days. Although originally it was more of a vendor-focused event, it has
steadily become more business and relationship-centred and I certainly consider
it the global financial event of the year, providing us with the invaluable
opportunity to meet with clients and their most senior representatives to talk
business.

Do I think Sibos 2012 was more subdued than usual and it
will be ‘back to normal’ this year? Undoubtedly, there were fewer attendees
than usual in Osaka but we still found it very worthwhile. The majority of our
clients were there and the meetings that took place were very focused and
useful, so we got a lot out of it. Nonetheless, we’re expecting the numbers in
Dubai to be up on last year’s.

You have spoken and
written on the macroeconomic and regulatory challenges faced by financial
institutions worldwide and both will be much in focus at Sibos. Has this year
provided evidence that the macroeconomic challenge might be easing, even while
there is no let-up or even a deepening of the regulatory
challenge?

Although there are continuing concerns over
an economic slowdown in Asia and particularly China – which is most evident in
the area of trade finance – we’re definitely seeing a momentum in the market at
the moment. FIs are looking more proactively to do business, and some projects
that had been halted for a few years are now coming back into focus.

Regulations such as the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD IV) and Basel III
are crystallising and companies are in the ‘how does this impact on me and what
do I need to do?’ phase, so we’re actively discussing with our clients exactly
how we can best help them.

The single euro payment area (SEPA),
which comes into effect from 1 February 2014, will obviously also rank high in
this year’s discussions. It’s ironic because there has been awareness of SEPA
for a long time, but with the deadline just around the corner, it is now high
on the agenda for institutions and corporates alike.

You are a strong advocate of financial institutions working
together and in partnership to meet economic and regulatory challenges. Is the
message being heeded or is there still a tendency to ‘go it alone’? What makes
Sibos such a good platform for promoting your message?

Going it alone is no longer an option. Even the major global players need
partnerships in those regions of the world where they don’t have a physical
presence and we speak to our partners around the world on how this can best be
achieved. My strong belief is that banks need to work together more
collaboratively and look to find solutions not just for their own needs but for
those of our underlying customers for whom we’re ultimately providing the
services needed for them to be successful.

Sibos is an excellent
platform for delivering this message as everyone that you want to see is
gathered together. I think that getting all of these decision-makers together
is one of Sibos’s main strengths.

Another major landmark
for Barclays at this year’s Sibos will be the formal launch of its Client
Solutions team. What are the new team’s main targets and do they extend beyond
meeting regulatory challenges?

We’re really excited
about the team, which was formed a few months ago but will be formally launched
at Sibos. It’s a development that reflects the fact that customers increasingly
want to work more closely with their partner banks in constructing long-term
solutions to the challenges they face.

The team has been put in
place to help our FI clients in navigating the regulatory environment and the
resulting challenges in their day-to-day operations. They will also play an
important role in helping our FI customers to maximise their potential by
delivering a seamless service for their corporate and retail customers as they
navigate outside of their home market.

The potential of
Africa is a key theme for Barclays at Sibos and the bank’s involvement in the
region goes back many years. Are people now taking advantage of the economic
growth potential that Africa has to offer?

Africa has
always been a continent with tremendous opportunities, particularly in
developing global corridors of trade. We’re currently seeing this with
year-on-year increases in flows from a number of continents, not least Asia
where firms are looking at ways to maximise the opportunities that Africa
offers as it continues to grow its infrastructure and global trade. Asia has
risen significantly in power and influence over the past 15 to 20 years and I
can see Africa potentially developing as the ‘new Asia’, recognising that there
are still a number of significant challenges which remain, in both politics and
infrastructure. South Africa obviously remains the continent’s main economic
powerhouse, but we’re also seeing significant growth in markets such as Ghana
and Kenya.

Africa continues to be a key priority for Barclays and,
having recently developed the Barclays Africa approach under chief executive
(CEO) Maria Ramos, we now have a truly joined-up approach to connect our
multiple markets in the region for our FI clients.

How
big a role will the theme of innovation play at Sibos this year? What do you
see as the main innovations at play in the market at the moment? And what is
Barclays doing in this sphere?

‘Innovation’ is
obviously a very broad term, but in terms of new products and IT, mobile
banking has been a particularly interesting one and we expect it to continue to
develop. Online solutions, in addition to SWIFT are also becoming more relevant
for doing business with financial institutions.

Barclays Pingit, our
mobile payments app, which launched in February 2012, has already proved to be
a real revolution in the UK and something we want to roll out to other
countries. We’re also adding a number of new functionalities to the app which
will really change the way that corporates interact with their customers.

At Sibos, there will be a lot of innovative conversation among the
vendors, for example at SWIFT’s Innotribe. In what is an increasingly
challenging regulatory environment, banks really need to innovate, particularly
given the entry into the market of new, non-bank innovators which has created
further competition and pressures.

Could you tell us a little
about Barclays’ TRANSFORM programme and also its Citizenship agenda? How will
you be promoting them at Sibos?

Led by our CEO, Antony
Jenkins, TRANSFORM takes a totally fresh look at how we as a bank want to do
business and, in particular, devotes significant investment to training and
development of our people. We have long held the belief that a product-based
sales approach doesn’t work and we are focused on a more integrated approach to
deliver One Barclays to our clients.

Barclays is a key founder of
the Banking Environment Initiative (BEI), a commitment to address the
environmental challenges for the financial sector, our clients and the
communities where we operate, in order to manage environmental and climate
change risks.

Antony Jenkins chairs the CEO panel and Jeremy Wilson,
vice Chairman, corporate banking, chairs the working group and we are excited
with how this group of banks can create a positive effect on the environment.
TRANSFORM is already well embedded with Barclays and I can confirm that it’s
making our business a really exciting place to be and is driving new
disciplines. We’ve been spending a lot of time with our customers who have been
asking about TRANSFORM, explaining just what it brings to the table.

Citizenship is one of the key pillars of TRANSFORM, and one key area that we
are focused on is looking at how we invest in young people and underprivileged
areas, which means considering what we think will add real value for them over
the next 15 or 20 years and not just the next 12 months. At our stand at Sibos
we’ll be presenting examples of our Citizenship activity, particularly our
‘Five Million Young Futures’ initiative and our commitment to help five million
disadvantaged young people aged 10 to 35 develop the skills they need to fulfil
their potential.

How do you see Sibos evolving five or
10 years from now? Will regulatory challenges still be high on the agenda or
will the focus shift elsewhere?

I’d like to think that
Sibos 2023 will see us spending less time talking about regulation. However, we
have to face the fact that the regulatory reaction to the events of five years
ago is now in the implementation phase and initiatives to ensure that it
doesn’t happen again took time to develop.

I know there are some
concerns in the market about regulation stifling innovation and holding back
economic growth, but change such as ring-fencing to ensure there is no repeat
of the crisis is understandable. I’m hopeful that the regulatory cycle will
begin to wind down and in another 10 years Sibos discussions can focus more on
innovation and less on regulation.

Finally are there any
other key issues that you plan to discuss with clients and others in
Dubai?

I see a few areas of discussion at Sibos.
Firstly, with SEPA almost on the doorstep for our clients in Europe and beyond,
it will be a big area of focus for us, as well as the eurozone and euro
clearing more broadly. Also on the agenda is the development of the Bank
Payment Obligation (BPO) as an aid to financial supply chains – that, along
with Africa, will be the topic of our breakfast sessions at Sibos. It’s a great
opportunity to get like-minded individuals together to discuss how we achieve
greater take-up of the BPO and achieve a consistent approach along the way.

Know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) regulation have
also clearly been hot topics over the past 12 months. As an industry, we need
to approach both of these challenges in a different way and cooperate rather
than adopt individual approaches and we’ll be canvassing our partners for their
opinions on these topics.

Finally, there is as always the issue of
liquidity, which for financial institutions ranks high in treasurers’ minds.
Six years ago, few were concerned with intraday liquidity; however, today, it
has become a precious resource and we’re developing products to help customers
maximise the use of their intraday liquidity.

Of course, events in
the region such as the conflict in Syria and the Arab Spring will inevitably be
hot topics at Sibos this year but, while they undoubtedly merit discussion,
given that Sibos is a global event, I don’t expect them to overshadow events in
Dubai

It’s a tough environment that we operate in and it will
continue to be so for some time to come. As an industry, we tend to focus on
the problems, but after five very tough years, we’re beginning to come out the
other side, so we need to believe in ourselves more and have a more positive
approach.

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