Cuts and bonuses - has Barclays changed its spots?

Banking, the chief executive of Barclays has been heard to say, is in the middle of a "100 year transformation".

It is having to adapt its business model as markets and customers change, and instil a new ethical culture after years of scandal.

Antony Jenkins has put these changes at the heart of his strategy for Barclays but how much success is he having?

Adjusted pre-tax profits at Barclays dropped by almost a third last year. Credit: PA

Yesterday I asked a senior British banking regulator about culture change in the industry and he said that "pay and bonuses are a good indicator of whether the leopard has changed its spots".

On this basis the evidence from Barclays this morning is not good. Adjusted pre-tax profits at Barclays dropped by almost a third last year.

In the last three months of the year alone, profits fell by 86 per cent as the investment banking division lost £329 million. Yet how was this result rewarded?

Chief executive Antony Jenkins has defended the increase in staff incentives as "paying for performance and paying competitively". Credit: PA

The bonus pool for the bank as a whole has been increased by ten per cent to £2.4 billion. In the investment bank they've risen even more: 13 per cent.

Barclays is one of the many banks using loopholes to get around caps on bonuses which are due to be imposed by the EU.

It awards some staff cash allowances on top of pay and bonuses to keep the take-home sum high, ­something Mr Jenkins insisted is essential if he is to compete for the "best people" with banks in America and Singapore which aren't subject to caps.

Mr Jenkins himself has already announced he is to forgo his own bonus for the second year running in recognition of £330 million fines for legal and regulatory breaches at Barclays.

Yet the bad news keeps coming: his gesture came before revelations in a Sunday newspaper that the bank may have lost confidential details of up to 27,000 customers, a major security breach which will attract another fine.

Unsurprisingly, the news on bonuses has been met with scorn from Labour. Cathy Jamieson MP, the Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: "These bumper pay-outs underline the case for repeating Labour's successful tax on bank bonuses."

Meanwhile Mr Jenkins' structural overhaul of the bank continues as he announced up to 12,000 job losses, over half of them in the UK.

The losses are part of a long-term plan to cut costs. In better news, the bank is becoming better capitalised ­so more secure.

Its core tier one capitalratio ­- a measure of how much equity it has to back up the risks it takes - has increased from 10.8 per cent to 13.2 per cent and the tougher leverage ratio is due to rise from below 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent this year.