Barclays' chief executive Antony Jenkins has told investors that cost reduction is his absolute priority and he wants to find a way for the bank to operate with as few as 100,000 staff – a near 30 per cent reduction on its current headcount.
Mr Jenkins said a bank's "only competitive advantage is going to be lower costs", according to one person present at a recent shareholder meeting. "He said the only question is: 'how can you eventually turn this bank into one that can operate with 100,000 staff instead of 140,000?'"
The revelation will fuel speculation that Barclays is preparing a round of mass job cuts – potentially targeting highly paid investment bankers. However, people familiar with Mr Jenkins' thinking said the reference to job reductions was not a target but an aspiration for the next 10 years.