If you turn off CNBC for five minutes you remember that there´s actual banking going on, with leaders engaged in the day-to-day business of making loans and taking deposits. Deanna Oppenheimer, CEO of Barclays UK retail banking division, is happy to talk about the boring banker stuff behind her turnaround of the underperforming retail operation, a strategy that resulted in a division that now contributes more than 20 percent of Barclays' profits, where employees are more engaged than ever and customer satisfaction is at an all-time high.

How´d she do it? By focusing on three tenets, Oppenheimer says: talent, consistency and innovation. In the talent arena, she orchestrated a rip-and-replace. In here first 18 months as head of the bank, she turned over 85 of the top 100 managers, and even that was too slow. "There was a mistake I made, I didn´t turn over marginal performers fast enough," she told several hundred bankers gathered for American Banker´s Best Practices in Retail Financial Services Symposium in Marco Island, Florida this morning.

And within consistency, the retail strategy Oppenheimer architected has four tenets: customer centricity, engaged employees, lean Barclays, and sustainable performance. "Consistency is the gateway to credibility, if you cannot consistently perform on those key control areas you do not earn the right for credibility," she says. But, "This is not about brain surgery, it´s not tough at all on the product side. Its just we do it a billion times a day."

And finally, on innovation, Oppenheimer warned the not to implement knee-jerk cost cuts that sacrifice the future. "Innovation is crucial to going through his period of time, whether it´s on products, how you´re treating employees, or what you´re doing in your distribution channels. Don´t give that up."

Too good to leave out are some of the lessons Oppenheimer´s learned over the years:

"Earlier in my career, I used to say success was 75 percent execution, 25 percent strategy. Today I will tell you it is 100 percent execution."


"Never ever underestimate the impact of customer and colleague insights and opinions on your business, they often hold the keys that foreshadow stunning success or failure of your efforts."