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March 28, 2014

Scandal-Hit British Banks Turn to ‘Weirdy Beardy’

“When Barclays BARC.LN +0.06% PLC executives wanted to overhaul the culture at their scandal-prone bank, they turned to a long-haired, paisley shirt-wearing professor known as the ‘weirdy beardy.’

“Roger Steare, a ‘corporate philosopher,’ has been tapped by several lenders, including Royal Bank of Scotland Group RBS.LN +1.76% PLC and HSBC PLC’s U.K. unit, as well as the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority, to advise on ways to improve how bankers behave at work. To do this the 56-year-old sits with executives and asks questions such as ‘Why do you exist?’ and ‘Who are you?’ Sometimes bankers break down and cry, he says.”

“You have to be the grit in the oyster, you have to be the person who asks the difficult questions,” says Mr. Steare in a promotional video. “From that grit, the pearls of wisdom are created.”

“Mr. Steare’s popularity comes as the issue of “culture” hits fever pitch among banks in London. Critics of the U.K.’s banks, including politicians and regulators alike, have said they promoted a culture of excessive risk-taking and bad behavior among employees.”

“After realizing banks circumvented many rules, U.K. regulators are trying a new tack: stop making so many of them. Instead, the onus is on banks to create work environments where staff will self-regulate, treat clients well and avoid a raft of future fines.”


Read full Wall Street Journal article here.

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