Magoosh GRE

Strategic Analysis (SWOT, Porter, PESTEL) of Barclays Group PLC

| November 16, 2012


1. Introduction

1.1   Background

Barclays group PLC is a big global financial provider operating in Europe, America, Australia, Asia, Middle East and Africa, which is engaged in retail banking, credit cards, corporate banking, investment banking, and wealth management. It made up Global Retail Banking, Corporate and Investment Banking, Wealth Management, each of which has a number of business units. And the group centre, which comprises all Barclays essential support. With 300 years of historical existence, the group operates through its subsidiary Barclays Bank PLC, in over 50 countries and has 147,500 employees and a merger with Absa group in South Africa.

The group practices integrated global banking model to serve its customers and clients as well as optimising risk adjusted returns for its shareholders. Thus, it moves, lends, invest and protects money for more than 38 million customers and clients worldwide. It is the third largest bank in the world in terms of assets and the one of the largest financial services provider in the world with a core tier one ratio of 11 per cent. It is the third largest bank in the United Kingdom (UK) based on market capitalization, with headquarters at 1 Churchill Place in London, England, having moved there in May 2005 from Lombard Street in London.


1.2   Purpose and Objectives


The group purpose is to make available products as well as services to help the customers to achieve their financial goals that would in turn lead to economic growth. To attain this, the plan focused on the following objectives:

  • A safer and more secure financial system.
  • A banking industry that is equipped to support the needs of the global economy.
  • The ability of the suppliers of financial capital to earn a positive return on their capital.
  • Demonstrating its credentials as a good citizen

To achieve these objectives, the plan entails analysis of the market environments of the bank and identified strategies designed to bring success. Then follow by the implantation and control mechanisms aimed at ensuring that the desired results are achieved.

2.   Analysis of the Market Environment


2.1   External Analysis


  • This analysis focus on the macro-environment, the market and the competitors of Barclays, to identify its opportunities and threats. According to Porter (1985), PESTLC analysis ensures that the performance of the company is aligned positively with the powerful forces of change that are affecting business macro-environment. Hence, it groups environmental influences such as political, economic, social, technological, legal and cultural forces impact on the bank.
  • The United Kingdom (UK) population which currently stands at approximately 70million, with a slide increase in immigration, independency and dependency ratios. A shift in population always affects economic growth, thus affect the bank.
  • Increased in UK employment rate of 70.6 per cent, about 25.3million households, and a consistent downward strength of divorce and dissolution (of about 121,700 to 113,900), influences the bank’s performance. This increase brings about economic competitiveness and high circulation of money, thus fuelling the economic growth of the country.
  • UK is a multicultural society which entails co-existence of different communities defined by their race, ethnicity or faith. So sociocultural environment is diverse and dynamic, which implies the bank need to stay in touch with the social and cultural shifts.
  • The science, engineering and technological, and entrepreneurial cultures made UK economically successful, thus, impacting a positive change on the bank’s performance. http//,,

2.1.1  Macro-environment Cultural and Social  Political and Legal

  • Unstable regulatory environment in UK.
  • Regulation to give political donation as part of their democracy support to the major South African parties.
  •  Political stability in UK, Europe, United States, Asian (India) and southern part of Africa, influences the group’s growth.
  • The new Basel rules on bank capital which requires all banks to hold top quality core tier one capital equal to 10 per cent of their assets, adjusted for risk. (19:09/ financial times/6th June 2011).
  • The Project Merlin Agreement which states that UK’s biggest banks are committed to lending more money in 2011, especially to small businesses, to pay less in bonuses than they did last year and to be more transparent about their pay packages. (15:42, BBC Business News, 9 February 2011).
  • Plan to increase bank levy to 2.5billions pounds this year-raising an extra of 800million pounds, will be a threat on Barclays bank PLC.(18:04,BBC Business News,8 February 2011).
  • Direct and indirect taxes levied.
  •   Recovery of national recessionary period and increased in employment rate.  Economic

  • Increase in UK gross domestic product by 0.5percent.
  • Inflation is steadily held on Consumer Prices Index at (CPI) 4.5 per cent and Retail Prices Index (RPI) at 5.2 per cent in May 2011.
  • UK retails sales fall to 1.4 per cent in May and interest rates have been kept at the record low of 0.5 per cent again this year, by the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee.
  • UK unemployment fell 88,000 in the three months to April this year to 2.43 million, the biggest drop since the summer of 2000.
  • The value of the average home in UK, rose by 0.1% from April to May 2011 to £160,519, but prices were 4.2% lower than the same period a year ago.
  • The European Central Bank signaled rise in Eurozone interest rate in July 2011, from 1.25 per cent.
  • Inflation in the Eurozone is 2.7% while euro falls to 1.44880 dollars against the US dollar in the first quarter 2011.
  •  High inflation in China and India in 2011 while Japan is in recession.
  • Increase loan rates and consumer prices in Korea.
  • Middle East and North Africa unrest affecting the Dubai-based Dnata, emirates aviation industry.
  • Import costs in developing countries rising by up to 30 per cent as a result of high oil prices and shortfalls in production due to bad weather which have contributed to higher food prices.
  • Jersey tax information exchange agreements with 17 of the G20 countries.,   Technological


  • New telecommunication systems, including fibre optic telecommunication and Internet to facilitate mobile banking and online banking.
  • Global launch of the next generation financial kiosks such as NCR SelfServ 4 which is a cashless kiosk, ideal for non-cash transactions such as appointment check-in and account services and SelfServ 8 features cash-deposit capability suitable for bill payments, equipped with touchscreen technology, the machines are loaded with NCR APTRA software applications that are PCI and EMV compliant.
  • New technology such as Mix-and-Match software for 3D digital signage and kiosks
  • SWIFT code to facilitate the international payment system in banks.
  • ATMs are currently in operation at all the local commercial banks.
  • Global increase in computer literacy and easy access to computer
  • More half of the global population is computer literate and has access to internet services. and




2.1.3  Competition Analysis

The group’s major competitors are HSBC bank, Bank of America, BBVA, BNP Paribas bank, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, RBS, Lloyds TSB bank, Santander bank, NatWest bank, Société Générale and UniCredit.

i.            HSBC Bank


  • HSBC bank is the first top bank in the world with the largest profit in the first quarter of 2011(4,153 billions dollars).
  •  High trust and credibility in emerging markets such as China, thus, enjoys large economies of scale in its fast growing economy.
  • A good online saving account offering competitive rates with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements, opened as little as with one dollar and money is FDIC insured to the maximum permitted by law.


  • HSBC decision to reduce its long- term return on equity target to 12-15 per cent from 15-20 per cent leaves its investors disgruntled.
  •  Insufficient trained staffs, thus less customer-driven.
  • Decreased in production and loyalty from its staffs due to redundancy programme.


ii.            Royal Bank of Scotland


  • Owns leading franchises in domestic market.
  • Highly centralised local branches in target markets as well as excellent customer services offered.
  • Sufficient number of well placed ATMs in target markets.


  • High loan losses affecting profitability and capitalization.
  • Excess growth of loan over deposits impacting liquidity.
  • Inefficient and ineffective operation management affecting margins., and http:/


 2.2  Internal Analysis

The internal analysis focused on the bank’s performance and its internal environmental factors such as its management, staff and infrastructures, in order to identify its strengths and weaknesses.

2.2.1   Performance

From Barclays annual report 2011(, the Barclays group PLC has more solid positions on capital with 11 per cent core tier one ratio (10.8 per cent Q4 2010), and a liquidity pool of 161 billion pounds than they started last year. While group’s adjusted gross leverage is maintained at 20 times and impairment is down 39 per cent considerably, giving the group’s first quarter (Q1) 2011, a loan loss rate of 76bps (Q1 2010:112bps). See Appendix.

Adjusted profit before tax of the group, excluding own credit and gains on acquisitions and disposals this year, up to 10 per cent to 2,004 millions pounds (8 per cent in 2010). Excluding own credit, return on equity increased to 10.1 per cent (9.3 per cent Q4 2010), return on tangible equity increased to 12.1 per cent (11.4 per cent Q4 2010), and return on risk weighted assets increased to 1.5 per cent from 1.4 per cent in Q4 of 2010. (See appendix). Increased in gross new lending to UK house holds and businesses amounted to 9.9 billions pounds indicates improvement on 2010 year ended amount of 43 billions pounds gross new lending plus 7.5 billions pounds of UK loans gotten from the acquisition of Standard Life Bank at the beginning of the year 2010. The Q1 2011 dividend of 1.0 pound per share, with earnings per share of 8.5 pounds. Over 2010, the group ranked in the top quartile Total Shareholder Returns (TSR) of its global competitors, this position is progressively maintained in the Q1 2011 implies good performance indicating good management by objectives this year.

2.2.2   Management and Staff

  • The management is made up of thirteen highly skilled and qualified directors and has 147,500 staff and senior executives. Most of the staff are young and have the requisite capabilities, and are re-trainable for newer systems and technology.
  • The remuneration Committee provides governance and strategic control of remuneration, human resource activities and senior management development.
  • The Committee’s objective in relation to remuneration is to motivate its employees towards excellence in business and personal performance by offering incentives, attract and retain employees of ability and experience.
  •  Staff is encouraged to part take in share option and share purchase schemes and have a substantial sum invested in Barclay’s shares.
  •  Staff is kept informed of matters of concern to them in many ways, such as business unit news magazines, intranets, briefings and mobile phone SMS messaging. These communications facilitate the achievement of a common awareness among employees.
  •  Staffs share their views and feedback on issues that matters to them. Periodic employee Opinion Surveys results reported to the Board, all employees and to its European Works Council, Africa Forum, its recognised union in the UK and other recognised unions worldwide. Road shows and employee forums also take place. In addition, regular and formal consultations with its recognised trade unions and work councils internationally.

2.2.3   Infrastructure and Delivery

  •  The group is investing heavily in infrastructures in order to perfect its client services and better reach to its global customers and clients, explains why the group is facing high operating costs.


3. SWOT Analysis

The SWOT Analysis identified the opportunities, threats, strengths and weaknesses of the bank, as follows:


3.1  Strengths:

  • The world’s third largest bank in terms of assets, with a core tier one ratio of 11 per cent.
  • Barclays Corporate has been named Lender of the Year at the 2011 Health Investor Award for the third time.
  • The group has an effective data management and first bank to produce statements in colours.
  • Barclays Egypt Award for business continuity despite the recent country’s civil unrest.
  • The Awards for Excellence 2011 won by Barclays community investment programme in Katine, Uganda.
  • The group’s brand is unique, historically built and promoted continuously through its good citizenship such as sponsorship of Premier League football.
  • The group enjoys large economies of scales and spread of risks as a result of its global presence.
  • Barclays Capital ranked number two overall in Risk magazine’s survey of institutional investor clients.
  •  Double win for Barclays at UK Moneyfacts Awards
  • Distinct technological innovations, for example, it introduced the first credit card ever used in the market in 1966, and mobile banking.
  • Acquisition and incorporation of Egg’s credit card customers in to the Barclaycard portfolio.
    • The group leadership team has very little customer-centric view, thus explains why they always have a lot of customer complaints especially from its UK retail banking that is poor customer services.
      • Poor earnings performance in the first quarter fueled criticism about executive pay packages in Barclays capital, the investment banking unit where pretax profit fell 33 per cent in the first quarter 2011.
      • Less attractive shares due to low earnings performance.
      • The bank branches are not well centralized within the high streets of UK unlike RBS and NatWest banks which are everywhere in the streets.
      • Online banking and telephone banking are complicated to access.
      • High interest rates on loans and low interest rates on savings accounts.
      •  Recent launch of the high street’s first two-year flexible bond giving savers a competitive  rate  and the flexibility to withdraw up to 30 per cent of the balance without incurring any charges.
      • Telephone banking with Barclays Wealth international offers secure, personal and private services, being the fast and friendly way to deal with day-to-day banking request unlike other banks.
      • Barclays Bank has a strong competitive advantage as it is among the top three banks in many African countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia and Mauritius, thanks to its merger with Absa Group Ltd in South Africa.
      • Emerging markets in Africa and Asia Pacific.
      • Barclays Capital strengthens prime services management by recently appointing ten managing directors.
      • Its strategy of full global diverse services provides the group a wide range of cross-selling opportunities.

3.2  Weaknesses


3.3   Opportunities


3.4   Threats

  • The recent Merlin agreement that required the availability of appropriate capital and resources by the banks to support gross new lending of 190 billions pounds, should demand materialize.
  • The recent strike threat at Highland airports could hit Barclays Scottish Open at Castle Stuart.
  • Varied government legislations in its global markets.
  • Recent consideration by the Independent Commission on Banking, to split retail and investment banking operations.
  • High financial risk exposure due to its global operation nature.
  •  Increasing competition and threats in the banking industry from other companies such as the new Japanese bank called Mizuho which is building in London to find new avenue for growth.,,,, , .

4.  Customer Analysis


4.1  Markets

  • The bank has branches in the UK as well as operations throughout Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia and America.
  • The market stakeholders consist of the governments, other public Sector bodies, corporate entities, insurance companies, professionals, public servants, pensioners, teachers, students and national residents in the above market segments.



4.2    Market Segmentation

  • Market segmentation is the splitting up of a market into different groups of customers with distinctly similar needs and product/service requirements. There is now widespread agreement that market segmentation form an important foundation for successful marketing strategies and activities. (Wind, 1978; Hooley and Saunders 1993).It implies it ensures that the elements of the marketing mix namely; price, distribution, products and promotion, are designed to meet particular needs of different customers.
  • Barclays group divides its market into different geographic units such as nations, states, regions, cities or streets. For example Barclays bank PLC Zambia.
  • The group also uses demographic segmentation to split its market in to groups on the basis of variables such as age, family size, family life cycle, gender, income, occupation, education, generation, nationality, religion, and social class. This type of segmentation is easy to measure and enables the bank to identify the right product offer to meet the specific needs of customers and improve its customer perceived offerings. For example, improvements of student account offer such as no monthly fee, an interest-free overdraft facility up to 2,000 pounds from opening the account.


4.3  Market Targeting

  • Barclays bank PLC uses the differentiated targeting approach which recognizes that there are several market segments to target, each being attractive to the marketing organization. As such, to exploit markets, a marketing strategy is developed for each segment. For example, Barclays targeted the student market segment in UK, and its rationale for acquiring students was that there was an opportunity to establish a long-term relationship with students and, to target a new customer annually.


  • The bank uses effective segmentation assessment criteria such as ensuring that its various market segments are measurable, substantial, accessible, differentiable and actionable, ensure a segment is useful for targeting.


4.4  Market Positioning

  • Market positioning is the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the minds of the target market. (A.Ries and J.Trout, 2000). The main purpose of positioning is to build the bank’s brands in the minds of the customers in order to maximize potential benefit to the bank.
  • Kotler (1997) argued that “Positioning is the act of designing the company’s offering and image so that they occupy a meaningful and distinct competitive position in the target customers’ minds”. Therefore, positioning is all about how customers judge a product’s attribute relative to that of its competitors, and its ability to deliver against the promises made.
  • The bank has applied a good positioning of its brands to target markets. For example, Barclays found that an incentive offering mobile broadband would have the most appeal to students, the bank partnered with orange to offer 25 percent discount on its mobile broadband schemes to those who signed up for a Barclays student account.
  • It also established a working group to oversee the new student proposition such as no monthly fees, an interest-free overdraft, free debit cards, mobile phone banking and a net work of local branches. This is to build its brands in the minds of its target customers by effectively and efficiently meeting their needs.
  • Orange and Barclaycard recently launch ‘Quick Tap’ – the UK’s first contactless mobile phone payments service, allowing consumers to make purchases on the high street using their mobile phone · Customers can make purchases £15 and under nationwide by simply tapping their Quick Tap mobile handset against a contactless reader at over 50,000 stores. Hence, the group has good positioning strategies.


4.5  Branding

  • Branding is a means to distinguish the products or services of one company from those of another. (K. Moore and Reid, 2006). Therefore, a brand is a logo, name, symbol, design or image, or any combination of these, which is designed to identify the product or service.
  • Its slogan “Take one small step” garnishes its branding.
  • Barclays group does branding of its products/services with respect to its target customers needs. The group has different brands such as Barclaycard and its contactless mobile payment brand , online banking, offshore banking and investment, UK premier and personal banking, business banking, Barclays corporate, international banking services, Barclays capital and Barclays wealth. and services,


5. Marketing Strategies


5.1  Mission

  • The mission of the Barclays group is to make available products as well as services to help the customers to achieve their financial goals that would in turn lead to economic growth as well as increased employment.

5.2  Marketing objectives

  • Customer and client driven, that is putting their needs first so as to develop a long term sustainable business.
  • Aims to meet clients’ needs while establishing a business with different sources of revenue, business segments, customers and clients, and geographic exposure.
  • Aims to serve clients across all their needs through a wide range of distribution channels.
  • To effectively managed the risks taken by its clients.
  •  Ensures financial discipline required to deliver returns is retained.
  • Demonstrates the group’s wider value to society both globally and in every community it serves.

5.3  Financial objectives

  • Operating within its capital resources
  • Generating returns in excess of its cost of equity
  • Sustaining growth in selected market and geographies.


5.2.1  Supply strategies


  • Barclaycard and orange newly developed “Quick Tap” contactless mobile payment service which allows consumers to make purchases on the high street using their mobile phone for the very first time. Barclaycard is providing Orange customers with £10 cash added to their account upon activation, and 10% cash back on all Quick Tap purchases made in the first three months.
  • Barclays Capital, the investment banking division of Barclays Bank PLC, recently announced the launch of the Algorithmic Inflation Momentum Switching (AIMS) index, designed to generate excess returns from the US inflation market. The reason being that market participants switch from nominal bonds to TIPS when concerned about inflation.
  • Barclays Wealth international offers discounted international online payments to investment and mortgage advice from our specialist advisers. It provides you with immediate access to your money as well as control over your day-to-day spending wherever you are.



5.2.2  Demand Strategies

  • Target students and matured wealthy Nationals returning home or resident locally, including doctors, lawyers, managers, entrepreneurs and retired persons.
  • Product differentiation so as to gain competitive advantages in the market.
  • Frequent adjusted slogan to continuously build its brand image.



5.2.3  Positioning strategies

  • The bank is currently perceived to have a poor customer services compared to its peer group that is their service offering and quality are not very much outstanding as portraits by its branding.
  • So the bank’s aim is to also move to the top position for service offering and service quality through its innovative product developments and improved service quality so as to defend its strong brand image.
  • Ensures effective data management is improved.

5.2.4  Competitors Strategies

  • Improve the quality of customer services by training staff.
  • Increasely promote ATMs, online banking, Barclaycards and telephone banking services that will provide greater convenience to customers.
  • Offer unique innovative Barclays Wealth-management and Barclays Capital products/services that will attract the target

 5.3  Marketing Mix Strategies

5.3.1  Product

  • Barclays offers personal banking and credit card facilities through Barclaycard to customers. The products and services for personal customers include: bank accounts (from entry-level through to premier), a range of credit cards through Barclaycard, saving accounts, loans, insurance, online banking and mortgages through Woolwich.
  • The also offers corporate and business banking, investment banking and Wealth management -which focuses on private and intermediary clients worldwide, providing international and private banking, investment management, fiduciary services, and brokerage.
  • The group ensures these products and services are always available to satisfy customer needs.


5.3.2  Price

  • The group ensures the prices are affordable with respect to the target customers. For example, no monthly fees, interest –free overdraft and 25% discount on its mobile broadband schemes to those who signed up for a Barclays student account.
  • Also a discounted international online payment to investment.


5.3.3  Place

  • The bank positions its product and services in such a way that they are be accessible at customers convenience such as Barclays replacement debit card delivered to customer’s home in two working days, availability of Quick Tap contactless reader at over 50,000stores.
  • Mobile phone banking and increase in a network of local branches.
  • ATMs at strategic locations throughout the country.
  • Increase franchises.

5.3.4  Promotion

  • Word-of-mouth campaign, literature in branches, TV advertisements, sponsorships, business magazines and news papers, and bill boards.
  • Online advertising on website and direct mail to prospective students.
  • Phone prospective customers or visit them at their residents or place of business to sell products and services to them
  • Develop an advertising campaign programs targeting the selected groups of customers.

    5.3.5  Personnel and Services

  • Develop a performance appraisal system that will allow for feedback throughout the fiscal year which determines annual salary increments and the quarterly bonuses such as travelling allowances, reward for sales volumes in order to motivate staff.
  • Recruit more people that possess the required skills for the tasks available and provide each of them with a job description setting out clearly the job expectations and goals, as well as the required job-related behaviors.
  • Offer good training to both existing and current staff for the job required task.
  • Improve on customers services by training both top management staff and subordinates to be customer-centric. , and and services.


6. Channel analysis


  • Barclays bank uses the following ways to reach its customers through its multichannel routes such as franchises and strategic alliances such as; Absa group.
  •  Through telephones, ATMs, contactless payment cards and visa debit cards.
  • The bank has about 1,900 branches in the UK as well as operations throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the US. Also plans to improve on the centralization of its branches within each target market.
  • Increase the number of its local branches within the high streets of UK, such as Universities areas.

7. Implementation and Control


  • Barclays group supports a marketing oriented culture to provide market perceived offering that meets customer’s expectations by placing a strong emphasis on its market research (SWOT and PESTLC analysis) to discover the data of  its market context, customer requirements, competitors activities, the most appropriate way to run their channel operations (distribution and marketing communications)
  • The group has ten existing skillful directors and two current directors, all assigned to manage each of the products and services business units efficiently and effectively with the help of 147,500 employees through management by objective.
  •  The budget holders who are top management will be given incentives, so as to hit and improve both their sales forecast and profit targets.
  • The group headquarters management foster and encourage creativity and innovation through out the business while ensuring effective risks management and financial discipline is in control.

8. Financial Forecast


  • · Target return on equity of 13 per cent by 2013
  • · Income growth between 4.3 and 6.4 billion pounds in 2013 relative to 2010.

9. Contingency plans


  •  Invest more in multichannel platform such as; success performance in mobile banking and online investment platform.
  • Effectively and efficiently focus on productivity and innovations
  • Ensures customer sovereignty is in place by staying close to them and effectively managing their risks.

10. Conclusion


I have taken a critical look in to the situation faced by Barclays group PLC such as its objectives, and goal (13 percent returns on equity by 2013 and income growth of) the group expected to achieved. While taken in to consideration its strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities sorted out by the use of SWOT and PESTLC analysis, as well as competitors’ analysis, and its marketing strategies on execution.

I am emphasizing on top management and staffs, to stop doing market skimming and be more customer-centric when making decisions and executing strategies as well as carrying out effective and efficient implementation and control in order to reach desired target.



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