Barclays has revealed how its investment in developing common, global IT infrastructures, is helping the bank transform the service it provides to its wealth customers.

It said that private banking customers nowadays want a different experience to a typical one in the past, which would have involved a lot of paperwork and more face-to-face interaction.

Customers of its wealth management business now want a fast, electronic registration process and instant access to their accounts by phone and internet 24 hours a day, Barclays said. It aims to provide this service by implementing a strategy that includes developing common infrastructure and platforms and high-quality relationship managers.

“We’re building a robust and scalable technology platform, taking advantage of the Barclays Capital and retail banking platforms to improve speed and efficiency, with a low risk of error, reduced cost to serve and higher productivity,” Tom Kalaris, the CEO of Barclays Wealth, told the Barclays Investor Seminar 2011.

“This global technology platform will differentiate us in an industry where technology and client-facing systems have grown up largely on a country by country basis, and increased regulatory requirements can only be met with global infrastructure.”

Last year, Barclays Wealth announced a five-year plan, known as 'Gamma', to spend £230 million on upgrading its IT and infrastructure. The division is also spending £120 million on several hundred new client-facing staff.

In an example of the more efficient customer service, Kalaris said that the division was soon due to deliver a credit application that reduces processing times by 30 percent.

“So far, we’ve hit all the key milestones in our plan to deliver a global, integrated platform, including an extensive upgrade of our data, new tools for on boarding clients, and global systems for customer relationship management and portfolio management,” he said.

Wealth is also sharing people and systems with other Barclays divisions, which it said is helping to cut costs and boost productivity. Two-thirds of the wealth management division’s infrastructure costs and a third of its staff are now shared with Barclay’s corporate and investment banking divisions.

This has helped to drive a 19 percent increase in income in 2010, and a 14 percent growth in profits for the wealth division.

“As a result of better people, a broader product base, stronger leverage of the rest of the firm, as well as improved system, the productivity of our high-net worth bankers has increased by 31 percent in the last year,” Kalaris added.

In its retail banking division, meanwhile, Barclays referred to its Egg acquisition from Citigroup in March, saying that it expects to integrate the Egg portfolio onto Barclays’ systems this year, to benefit from economies of scale.

Barclays will also be making more headway in the area of mobile, having launched mobile, Near Field Communication (NFC) payments last month in the UK, in partnership with mobile operator Orange.

“We will expand it throughout 2011 to a broader range of handsets, and across more phone operating systems and manufacturers,” said Anthony Jenkins, CEO of Barclay’s Retail and Business Banking (RBB) division.

He added: “We are also in active discussions with other potential partners to launch mobile payments in the United States and Europe.”