Barclays to enter new European private banking markets in 2021

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ZURICH (Reuters) – Barclays (L:BARC) plans to enter four new European private banking markets in 2021, its regional manager for the business told Reuters.

Gerald Mathieu, who in September became Barclays’ private banking head for Europe outside Britain, said the British bank was looking to start up the business in France, Italy, Spain and Germany next year.

“These are the countries where we see a lot of opportunities, also because we have a very strong footprint of corporate and investment banking locally,” Mathieu said in an interview.

“The idea is to have a capital-light approach and work in very close collaboration with the investment bank locally, targeting family offices, ultra high net worth individuals, and some qausi-corporate or institutional clients.”

The bank said it was too early to disclose hiring plans.

Barclays, which does not separately report revenues or profits for private banking, maintains hubs for managing wealth in Europe in Monaco, Switzerland, and Ireland.

It will grow activities in new European markets via its European Union-licensed platform in Dublin, Mathieu said, working together with local corporate and investment banking teams.

Previously Barclays’ country head for Switzerland, Mathieu said the bank had seen an inflow of clients into Switzerland as the market gained appeal amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both the Swiss and broader European private banking business were seeing growth in managed assets, he said. But the COVID-19 pandemic and negative interest rates presented particular challenges to the business and industry as a whole.

“The industry is facing global margin compression and very aggressive pricing competition,” he said. “The private banking business across Europe is profitable, but we have to anticipate and adapt our business model to the challenges of these times.”