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Assessment of the Business Environment of Barclays Bank

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Barclays is a major financial service provider across the globe with experience in offering services in retail banking, credits cards, corporate and investment banking to its customers. The bank also offers wealth management services and has expanded its business tenets in Europe, America and Asia. The bank has 300 years of constant expertise in the banking sector and currently operates in 50 countries with a human resource capacity of close to 150, 500 people (Acrill & Hannah, 2001).  The external and remote business environment of Barclays Bank offers opportunities and challenges alike. This paper is an assessment of the external, remote and industry environment of Barclays Bank, the UK. 

The External Environment of Barclays Bank

An assessment of the external environment of Barclays Bank, the UK reveals its opportunities and threats in relation to the political, economic, competition, social, technological and legal realities of its area of operation (Acrill & Hannah, 2001). The UK financial market generally presents Barclays with great opportunity for growth. The Bank still enjoys dominance in the financial market. Being the first financial institution in the market, Barclays has established its business base and roots and is mostly relied upon by other financial institutions for bailouts during financial crises. This is an opportunity that Barclays has ably exploited to champion its business course and remain dominant in the UK financial market. Besides, most of the UK government/public financial transactions are made through the Bank. This enables Barclays to have a pool of customers and potential consumers for its various services.

The technological advancement and infrastructural development that the UK enjoys is a great opportunity for Barclays Bank. While most of the competitors in the financial market like Lloyds Group have not exhaustively utilized this opportunity because of shortage of business technology and networking personnel, Barclays has been able to contract these services. Therefore through outsourcing, Barclays has been able to enhance efficiency, convenience for all its subscribers. The use of swift cards, credits cards, ATM and wireless money transfer are well advanced in Barclays Bank transactions (Acrill & Hannah, 2001).

Although the UK market has offered Barclays great potential business opportunities, the volatility of the financial market is a great threat to the Bank. For example, during the 2007-2009 financial crises, the Bank suffered great loss resulting from the financial tremors that affected most of the financial institutions that looked up to Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland for bailout (Singh, 2007). Worst still is the fact that most of the government financial transactions, investment loans are processed through Barclays. The housing finance, mortgage and stock markets are all integrated within Barclays’ banking system. When these institutions face financial stress, the weight affects the performance and profit margins of Barclays Bank. In the annual report of financial year ending 2010, Barclays registered allegations of political interference within the operations of the Bank. This illustrates that the Bank’s policies and laws are still weak and can be very vulnerable to political manipulation and interference. This is risky for any financial institution that has a large operation base like Barclays Bank, the UK.

Barclays Bank Remote Environment

Remote environment assessment entails analysis of the business elements that are beyond its control. These may be economical, social, political or even technological. As a financial institution operating in a technologically advanced business environment, Barclays Bank is faced with the challenge of turning this environment into a viable business opportunity (Capon, 2009). For example, the recent policy of the government that financial institutions such Barclays must remit a monthly tax return of 23% has had implications on the profit margins of the bank. The Chief executives had to strategize and raise the interest rates of some of its lending services to be able to cope with the tax requirement. Besides, the requirements by the UK’s Central Bank that the interest rates on all mortgage loans must factor in the fluctuating inflation rates in the country have severely halted the ability of the Barclays Bank to operate independently and follow the forces of demand and supply in the money market (Mercer, 1998).

The financial markets in the UK are very elastic. This has greatly affected the strategic management approaches of most financial institutions with many closing down or relocating to other countries. Barclays Bank must thus develop a proactive and strategic approach to be able to cope with the tremors of the Euro in the Euro zone and the U.S dollar (Campbell & Craig, 2005).  The slump of these currencies has often led to crises in the money markets and investment prospects. Barclays registered a negative profit margin during the global financial crisis in most of its mortgage business and survived the wave only because of the loans that were paid up. This environment is thus a potential threat to the bank (Saleem, 2010).

The industry environment of Barclays Bank

The UK banking sector is generally declining in terms of performance relative to the global banking sectors (Capon, 2009). This is contrary to what the situation was four years ago. The banking sector in the UK where Barclays operates is now ranked position five according the survey of the world banking sector. The profit margins of Barclays Bank and other financial institutions such as Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds still stand at 58% (McTavish, 2005).  The government owns most of the dominant financial institutions such as the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Lloyds Banking Group. The government owns a sheer 84% of the shares of these institutions. This implies that the financial markets and the banking sector in particular are dominated by the government (Kew & Stredwick, 2005). In the aftermath of the global financial crunch, the economy of the UK was dilapidated as most the UK lenders and banks sought financial bailout from the government due to the freezing of the global markets.

In conclusion, Barclays Bank’s operating environment is ripe with opportunities and challenges that require strategic management principles that would transform the challenges into opportunities for its survival in this environment. 

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