The boss of retail banking at Barclays has admitted that 2012 was a "very difficult year" for the bank, and said the decision to release details of staff's £38.5m bonus details on Budget day was a "mistake" but claimed it was not an attempt to bury the news.
Barclays - which was this week named and shamed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as attracting the most complaints of any financial institution - was last year mired in the LIBOR rigging saga, which saw its chief executive Bob Diamond grilled by MPs over the bank's role in the scandal.
The bank was fined £290m by UK and US regulators over its rigging involvement - and has set aside £2bn to cover payment protection insurance mis-selling compensation.
Speaking at an event in London yesterday, chief executive of retail and business banking Ashok Vaswani said 2012 was a "very difficult year, especially for Barclays", and said it was "really, really important that we go back and looks at whether what we're doing is right".
But he defended the bank over the timing of its bonus report, saying Barclays had "gone out of its way" to be transparent in the release - which revealed its investment bank chief Rich Ricci got paid £17.5m of shares which he immediately cashed in and chief executive Antony Jenkins got £5.3m of shares.
"The timing was bad. It was a mistake. There was no attempt to slip it under the covers," he said, adding the realisation that the report was released on the same day as Chancellor George Osborne's Budget "didn't go down well" at the bank.
Ashok - who was giving a presentation in Canary Wharf about rebuilding trust in financial services - called on banks to define their purpose, which he said must be beyond "just making money".
"Rebuilding of trust must start with retail. At Barclays we have decided we must help people realise their ambitions in the right way."
However, he admitted that rebuilding trust in the sector "will take a long time".
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