While other banks try to emulate the dress-down culture of the tech startup sector, Barclays is going in the reverse direction, banning jeans, t-shirts, trainers and flip-flops at its head office.
A memo banning flip-flops and other hipster clothing is directed primarily at Barclaycard staff, who have traditionally considered themselves on the front-line of the tech revolution. It was sent at the behest of new executive chairman John McFarlane, who wants the bank to adopt an ultra-conservative tone in its dealings with clients, extending to suitable business attire.
The note, dispatched from the desk of Barclaycard’s interim chief Amer Sajed and seen by the Telegraph, says that staff working at the bank's head office in Canary Wharf will need to smarten themselves up, even on traditional dress-down Fridays.
"As the worldwide headquarters of the Barclays group, One Churchill Place is an important and iconic building. With key client representatives and high profile guests regularly visiting the building it's important that we present the right image of the business and that colleagues working in 1CP [1 Churchill Place] represent Barclays at its best," writes Sajed. "Now defining ‘business casual’ is not easy - just try Googling the term to see what I mean! - but if you work on the premise that the overall objective is to project a professional, business-like image without being obliged to wear formal business attire then you should be fine. Principally it means no jeans, t-shirts, trainers or flip-flops (although - with the exception of flip-flops - more casual dress is acceptable on a Friday)."
The change in direction flies in the face of the innovation trend in financial services, with stuffy big corporates seek to emulate the more relaxed dress codes of tech firms like Google and the startups occupying bare-brick warehouse space in trend-setting pockets of the capital such as Shoreditch.
For instance, in May MasterCard sought to bring a little startup cool to its headquarters by actively encouraging staffers to ditch their suits for jeans and sneakers. The ruse is part of a move by the card scheme to adopt a tech hub culture, in the hope of sparking innovation and creativity, while also helping to eliminate the generational gap between management and millennial staffers.