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Barclays' GC decision 'a sign of things to come'

Posted by: Laurence Simons 11/09/13

Choosing the right general counsel (GC) is all important for firms if they are to operate in a smooth and competent manner.

Both government departments and companies will rightly take their time before making a selection, as let's face it, you can get a new car, house or even friends, but an impressive GC is truly valuable to an organisation!

GCs need to have a comprehensive understanding of legal issues, but also be able to factor in the importance of the commercial and financial realities that come with successfully running a business.

According to senior City banking lawyers, the hiring of Bob Hoyt as Barclays' new GC is indicative of the brave new US-led regulatory world we are living in. Whereas these individuals used to have a corporate background, increasingly those with a solid footing in regulatory practices are getting the nod.

Mr Hoyt held the same position with the US Treasury between 2006 and 2009, so he knows a thing or two about dealing with commercial problems. Indeed, one senior City partner told Legal Week the appointment is indicative of how "major British-based financial institutions [are] recognising the need for serious senior input from the US regarding US issues at GC level".

The expert, unsurprisingly, drew comparisons with the decision of HSBC back in 2012 to employ Stuart Levey, who had also worked for the US Treasury.

Explaining the decision to hire Mr Hoyt, Barclays' chief executive Antony Jenkins said: "Banking is a highly regulated industry, the legal matters we face are myriad and complex and it was important that we recruited a strong leader ... [to] help us manage these challenges."

Mr Jenkins added one of the key drivers of the appointment was that Mr Hoyt also has experience of working at a senior level in both industry and government.