Barclays Life in limbo as chief resigns

The four agencies that have waited since September 1993 to hear if they have won the Barclays Life account face more frustrating delays following the resignation of the assurance division’s marketing director.

Malcolm Oliver, marketing director with the Barclays unit, will not be staying on when his three-year contract ends in September this year.

Oliver is leaving Barclays after a disagreement over advertising strategy, according to industry sources.

Four agencies have been on the shortlist for the account for the past 18 months: Banks Hoggins O’Shea, Butler Lutos Sutton Wilkinson, Burkitt Weinreich Clients & Co and Kelly Weedon Shute.

Both Oliver and Barclays Life division bosses are thought to have chosen Banks Hoggins O’Shea. According to sources, the parent bank will not approve the £3m advertising budget.

Oliver says that a final decision about the agency appointment may not be made before he leaves. This has raised speculation that the entire selection process may have to be started again once a new marketing director is appointed.

The ad for Oliver’s job, which went out this week, had an ironic tone. It said the successful candidate should be “a persuasive negotiator, able to influence decisions at board level and beyond”.

Oliver was hired to establish a separate identity for Barclays Life. But management changes at Barclays and changes in the wake of updated disclosure rules for financial services led to a string of delays in the agency selection process.

Oliver has yet to confirm his exact reasons for leaving. But he says: “There is no massive disagreement. It is just a matter of emphasis.”

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