Barclays' Americas wealth management head steps down

NEW YORK Fri Mar 8, 2013 8:08pm EST

A Barclay's trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, July 3, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

A Barclay's trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, July 3, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Mitch Cox, a former Merrill Lynch executive who Barclays Plc hired in 2009 to revive its Americas wealth business, has left the British bank, not long after a report shed light on the over-aggressive management culture he had fostered at the New York-based division.

London-based Barclays said on Friday that Cox, who had headed its Americas wealth and investment management unit since October 2009, has stepped down to "pursue interests outside the firm."

The departure of Cox, effective immediately, follows the sudden resignation in January of Barclays Wealth's London-based chief operating officer, Andrew Tinney after he was found to have suppressed the independent report.

The report, which Barclays had commissioned from consulting firm Genesis Ventures in February 2012, criticized the private bank's "revenue-at-all costs" management culture, especially in New York, London-based media reported widely in January.

Barclays declined to comment on the extent to which the report was tied to Cox's departure. Cox could not be reached for comment.

"Independent reports, like the one commissioned in early 2012 for Barclays Wealth in America, are intended to identify areas where change is required and to recommend remedial steps," Barclays said in a statement. "These types of exercise never result in comfortable reading, but we have been, and will, remain absolutely committed to taking the necessary steps to address the issues raised."

GLOBAL WEALTH HEAD KALARIS TO TAKE OVER

Barclays' global wealth head, Thomas Kalaris, will run the Americas wealth unit until the company selects a replacement for Cox. Kalaris, who also serves as an executive chairman of Barclays Americas, moved to New York from London last year to beef up management of the Americas unit.

Cox, also based out of Barclays' Park Avenue office in Manhattan, was brought on board to build a wealth franchise out of the small retail brokerage business Barclays inherited when it purchased the now defunct Lehman Brothers' banking and trading businesses in late 2008.

He was not far from completing a $500 million, five-year plan, begun in 2009, to build a brokerage franchise aimed at wealthy Americans. Under Cox, Barclays had been bulking up its wealth management presence in the United States, aggressively hiring veteran advisers from rival firms.

The unit, which employs more than 250 brokers, has 14 offices, including its trust company office.

Cox said in an interview last May that he aimed by the end of 2014 to have 400 advisers selling estate planning, mortgages, hedge funds and other investment products to people with about $10 million or more of investable assets.

The unit would have about the same number of advisers as Credit Suisse's wealth management unit in the Americas, though Barclays sees its primary competition as JPMorgan Chase's private banking group and the small private wealth management unit of Goldman Sachs Group.

(Reporting by Ashley Lau; Additional reporting by Jed Horowitz; Editing by G Crosse and Richard Chang)

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