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Docking bankers' pay

Robert Peston | 12:30 UK time, Sunday, 8 February 2009

Alistair Darling and George Osborne both this morning played the role of grownups who are furious at the naughty, greedy behaviour of bankers.

And both made it clear - in interviews with Andrew Marr - that bankers' pay bonanza is well and truly over.

Which gives no wriggle room for banking executives, since Darling is the current Chancellor and - if opinion polls are correct - Osborne is the future Chancellor.

So how are they proposing to limit bankers' pay?

Well perhaps the most interesting remark by Darling is that he intends to impose restrictions on bankers' remuneration for all banks in receipt of any kind of serious financial support from taxpayers, and not just banks where taxpayers have a big shareholding. .

Darling was explicit that his interference in banks' pay arrangements would go wider than Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley, or those banks where the state owns the whole bank or part of it.

The Chancellor feels he has the right to limit bonuses and set conditions on pay at any bank propped up by us, by taxpayers - which broadly includes all British banks, since they've all received exceptional loans and guarantees from taxpayers over the past few months..

But in practice, the Chancellor will impose his will on pay during the current and very active negotiations on providing insurance to banks for future losses on their dodgy loans and investments.

There's a logic here, in that taxpayers will be taking huge amounts of risk away from banks and bankers - and since rewards in a market-based system are supposed to be linked to risk, the remuneration of banks' employees should fall very significantly indeed.

But this will put Barclays in a very tight spot: it wants to participate in the taxpayer insurance scheme, but has also been desperately keen to preserve its independence over remuneration.

The Chancellor's change of position on pay will be infuriating to Barclays' board, which thought that by raising capital from the Middle East rather than from Westminster it had escaped being nannied on pay by Darling and Gordon Brown.

But Barclays' directors and those of other banks will not be able to run for comfort to George Osborne and the Tories.

Osborne told me this morning that he feels bankers were for years being paid too much for taking minimal personal risks (although these risks were excessive for their own institutions and for the economy).

The shadow chancellor said that if banks don't limit their pay and bonuses over the next couple of years, the government should instruct them to do so (and, he said, the government has every right to do so).

And he added that the enormous sums earned by bankers must go forever, that it's completely inappropriate that a banker should earn twenty times that of a heart surgeon.

All of which rather implies that the luckiest bankers may turn out to be those who were sacked last year for their incompetence and managed to walk away with payoffs and fat pensions.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    This is great news, honestly. I know that the financial sector always expresses concern about a talent drain, but to be frank I'm not in the least bit convinced that "high status/pay = great talent".

    Looking at the industry, it seems to me that the correct equations are "high status = well-placed chums + wild greed + crushing ambition", and "great talent = unimpressive pay + exploitation".

    If this move flushes the oligarchs out of the top for good, because they can no longer earn ludicrous amounts of money in the sector, maybe we'll actually get some talented financiers in their place who are more interested in keeping the world running that they are in just eating it.

  • Comment number 2.

    some redundancies would make the remaining staff more agreeable to these proposals (followed by some recruitment in the future)

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm sure there will be calls from some quarters for previous bonuses to be repaid, but that seems a slippery slope leading to no-one's past earnings (in any industry) being safe.

    Perhaps best to accept that some people are just luckier than others - lottery winners and Tony Blair come to mind ;) - and concentrate on making sure the excess never happens again.

  • Comment number 4.

    OK, now I'm bored with the remuneration debate. It's perfectly obvious bonuses should not be paid - to anyone. As others have powerfully made the point. These people are lucky to have jobs at all, when so many others do not.

    But concentrating too much on the bonus issue diverts attention from the real question that needs urgently to be addressed.

    WHAT IS BANKING FOR? HOW SHOULD IT WORK?

    How can we set up a system where risk does not have to be socalised while profit is privatised?

    Retail banking used once to be fairly firmly separated from so called investment banking. Can't that split be restored? Should we go back to the mutual society model which worked fine, before the Tories unpicked it in their 1986 legislation? It's interesting that the institutions that have failed most catastrophically are the former building societies. They worked just fine back when they were owned by us, their account holders.

    But most of all we need to return to a position where banking is first and foremost about taking care of your customers' money, not about making a profit from it.

    As someone recently said - can't remember who - this isn't a financial crisis. It's a crisis of trust. What kind of system will restore our trust in banking? How quickly can we get it in place? These are the things our politicians should be debating, not this knee jerk and easy condemnation of bonuses.

    In the meantime, anyone fancy joining me in founding a new building society?

  • Comment number 5.

    The bonuses being paid are presumably written into contracts, so legally they have to be paid. However, contractual terms are seldom straight forward. For example there might be clauses which allow past bonuses paid on false premise to be clawed back against current entitlement. There may also be clauses allowing future bonuses to be renegotiated.

    So if the Prime Minister wishes to make informed decisions, he will need to freeze bonus payments and send in a big team of negotiators to deal with each case on its merits.

  • Comment number 6.

    There are pay grades for the civil service.

    Use them.

    That is what they are there for.

    All else is grandstanding.

  • Comment number 7.

    Alistair Darling and George Osborne both this morning played the role of grownups who are furious at the naughty, greedy behaviour of bankers.

    Er........something about the pot calling the kettle black??? Politicians & bankers are from the same pod! Crooked as a nine bob note!

  • Comment number 8.

    A case of shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted.

    That`s assuming Darling would ever really stand up and take a firm stand with the banks. Sorry to say I haven't seen any sign of that looking back to the start of the crisis.

    I will give Brown and Darling credit for one thing - they love get in front of a camera and talk a good game. The unfortunate thing is they are well short on delivering the goods!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    Well a nice thought but I expect the artful dodgers at the top my yet evade the slow moving duo. It is a similar problem to the recently raised issue of tax avoidance by multinationals. Bearing in mind tax avoidance is legal, it is tax evasion which is not. I really do not think it is a workable proposition long term.

  • Comment number 10.

    I don't think anything drastic will happen to their bonuses no matter what party rules the country. They may be making a lot of noise just now but the end result will be nothing too severe.

  • Comment number 11.

    Just for once in his indecisive life, Darling might just say NO, and then ask the bankers which part of No don't they understand

  • Comment number 12.

    In my world this political escapism demonstrates a failure to tackle real issues - and means we won't therefore get real fixes.

    The bonuses were not the problem - the regulatory regime encouraged greed.

    That is the province of the government.

    The power of the markets should have been harnessed so that self interest worked for - and not against - national interest. There was no genuine monitoring by government and no political will (e.g. Blair discouraging close FSA regulation as the banks were perfectly respectable) to keep control.

    At the moment the breathtaking cheek is unbelievable. We are more likely to hear "you never had it so good!" than "we made serious mistakes, we acknowledge that and we will fix the problems".

    The really curious thing is people would forgive the latter but not the former so why do it?

  • Comment number 13.

    All the focus this week on bankers' bonuses is just a massive diversion from the real issues.

    Central banks are progressively losing the fight to prop up our fiat paper currencies. This article tells all.

    http://mises.org/story/3281

  • Comment number 14.

    At last some real common sense from all concerned.
    And congratulations to Robert Peston and the BBC for concentrating on this for the past week or two.
    OUR BANKERS HAVE BEEN RUNNING ON TESTOSTERONE, ADRENALYN AND DODGY SUBSTANCES.
    They need to run on common sense.
    Without stability they are doomed.
    The bonuses were simply too big.
    100 years of earnings in one year?
    No wonder they lost their mind.
    These are not feudal times, and the working man is being deeply insulted by these bonuses.
    Governments everywhere have to act, or we will be back in this mess in 20 years time.
    No more than doctors...correct Mr Osborne.
    The public feel that bankers have become parasites.
    Who really are the "wealth creators"?....those who use tractors, tools and trucks or those who work in the City?
    Sarkozy and Merkel are also deeply unhappy with the bankers "God complex".

  • Comment number 15.

    Keep up -havn't Barclays directors already forgone their cash bonuses

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    quote "The shadow chancellor said that if banks don't limit their pay and bonuses over the next couple of years, the government should instruct them to do so"

    Is this guy for real, I want action Yesterday.

    No Caps needed, just a blanket 95% tax on 150k+, if you dont like it make way for the next generation.

    And why do our banks/Utilitiy companies sponsor sports with their obscene wages.



  • Comment number 18.

    Speaking as a former banker, although not in the league of those earning as much for one bonus as most people see in their life, it is not unreasonable to pay a bonus as long as the structure is appropriate.

    If a car salesman sells £10m worth of cars nobody bats an eyelid if they end up with a huge commission. Likewise if a currency dealer makes £1bn in profit in a year it's not unreasonable that they should walk away with some of that profit.

    The problem is not the awarding of huge bonuses, the problem is that bonuses have been awarded based on profits that are not yet realised. Once money is received and off the table it's fair game to be used for payouts to both investors and fund managers. While the money is still on the table (as is the case with long-term swaps, options, CDOs etc) it shouldn't be used for bonus payments at all. If that means the star players leave before getting a bonus, that's their problem.

    Bottom line, bonuses need to encourage long-term profits and stability, not short term profit with long term chaos.

  • Comment number 19.

    This storm in a glass regarding bankers pay only scratches the surface of the problem - "limit their pay and bonuses over the next couple of years"?!

    "luckiest bankers may turn out to be those who were sacked last year for their incompetence and managed to walk away with payoffs and fat pensions"?

    I don't believe this is such a strong case neither the "it's in their contract" nonsense. I'm pretty sure their contract says something about the consequence of their actions influencing their company future.

    To see confidence returning to the banking industry and the stock market there is no other way but make the ones responsible for this mess pay.

  • Comment number 20.

    Royal Bank of Scotland bonus's

    With the unprecedented losses RBS is about to drop, expected to be >£10bn, I'm in the beggaring belief camp that anyone at RBS is getting any bonus at all.

    They should be glad they still have a job.

  • Comment number 21.

    As a human resources executive recently retired from the private sector I am well versed with the concept of bonuses and I support them entirely. Generally they substitute a proportion of base pay with an annual payment, or award of stock or stock option which is at risk and dependent on the performance of the company.

    However, they only work if tied very strongly to key performance indicators that are important to the current, and future, success of the company. Common indicators are stock price, earnings per share or , where the balance sheet is important, an "economic value added (EVA)" basis. Certainly an arbitrary award to "retain" high performers is poor practice. There are better more discriminate ways to do this.

    Therefore it seems inconceivable, given the performance across the board, of both the sector and individual banks that there could even be a serious suggestion that bonuses be awarded. If so there should be serious questions asked of the directors by the shareholders, which in many of these cases is the taxpayer.

  • Comment number 22.

    No doubt Mr Varley and his well-heeled chums at Barclays will be indignant that they might find themselves in a position similar to RBS, even though they remain "independent".

    This is the same group of people who wanted ALL of ABN, unlike the RBS-led consortium. Had they been "successful" in getting hold of ABN for 60-plus billion, Barclays would have gone COMPLETELY to the wall.

    Goodwin saved Varley's neck because he was marginally more vain, more arrogant and more reckless - but these two bitter rivals and competitive titans of the banking world are, in essence, no different.

    Mr Varley should be sending champagne to FTS every evening after Fred's humiliation in front of the parliamentary committee. If Varley wasn't such a lucky blighter, it would be him that would be being roasted..

    Insted, to=morrow we will all have to listen to nonsense about "profits" from Barclays, and be told how lucky we are that one major bank has responsible people at the helm.

    Lucky Mr Varley. A knighthood beckons, methinks.

  • Comment number 23.

    How much more proof will it take before bankers admit they simply did not know what they were doing over the past decade?

    World War III, perhaps?

    These guys, it is clear, got paid more for their skills with a crystal ball and "gaming the system" than any ability to manage risk. Making money in a confident, rising market is just shooting fish in a barrel.

    And, er, wasn't it obvious? How on EARTH can any entity make such profits without there being some guilty secret hidden away? Surely if the market were functional, such anomalies would have self corrected? Don't massive profits attract competition any more?

    As for bankers' earnings, where was their so-called "risk" when their rewards are effectively guaranteed and untouchable when things go so utterly wrong?

    Great work if you could get it.

    I also wonder how many bank employees could state clearly how their bank actually earns money? Indeed, I now wonder how many "top" executives could. It's clear they and their underlings had not the slightest grip of the peril they had put their banks into. For them, the sun was always shining, and indeed for those at the top (or, now, given the boot) still sat on millions in savings and pensions, it still is.

  • Comment number 24.

    Just be careful !

    A banker is also a person who works behind a cash desk or a customer advisor, a commercial manager or a branch manager but a few to mention.

    Lets not tarnish and demoralise the whole banking profession as the government did with social workers.

  • Comment number 25.

    There has been so much poorly advised comment recently fueled by the press that as a Banker of 30+ years it gets very frustrating.
    The number of people who are in line for £100k+ bonuses is very few. Likewise the number of people involved in the toxic assets that have created the problems the whole banking industry faces is also very low. People talk about Bankers repaying their binuses, well many of us have in a round about way. We have always been encouraged to take at least part of our bonus via shares and the average value of staff shareholdings is now significantly lower due to the slump in the share value. So staff have already been affected by the credit crunch more than most of the general public.
    Our particular team have performed strongly during 2007 and if we had not generated the income/profit we did, the losses to be confirmed shortly would have been significantly higher. In general, excepting some City brokers, the average wage of a high street Banker is not huge. We look to boost this vis the bonus system. If we do not perform and generate real income from the Bank, we recieve just the basis salary. If we perform against closely drawn targets representing 'real' income, we have the chance to be awarded a reasonable bonus through going the extra mile, working long hours, helping our customers develop their business and benefit the economy as a whole. Not through the idea of fat cats sitting on their behinds working 9.00 to 5.00 as some suggest.

  • Comment number 26.

    Everything that has a broad consensus on this blog seems to emerge from the mouths of politicians some time later, albeit it in a watered down less coherent and less useful form. Better than nothing though I suppose.

    Todays discussion on Andrew mar's show is no different.

    I think the bloggers here are glad to be of service to the politicians in telling them what they need to do.

    From our part I would kindly request that if they are going to use us to govern the country they are continualy about 4 to 6 months too late in taking up the advice that is provided to them from here and they should stop fiddling with it and watering it down / drip feeding it in in order to save their own skin.

    They need to start to get ahead of the curve for a change and stop responding like a bunch of power grasping politicians and start acting like public servants.


    Jericoa

  • Comment number 27.

    I think Jacqui Smith should be investigated.
    Clean up Government and there may be some trust in Gov. cleaning up the banks.
    OH! never bother, they are as bad as each other.
    Election needed.

  • Comment number 28.

    Their behavior was criminal, they need to be brought to justice like the rest of us would face. Double standards are what helped cause the economic breakdown. Have you ever seen such a mess in your life! Citizens are still being charged for their greed and bad deals. There must be another way to settle these losses, than charge generations of totally innocent citizens for their mistakes and theft?

  • Comment number 29.

    I cannot believe bankers who needed government help are even contemplating bonuses. Without government money they would have gone belly up; if this had happened they would not be getting regular monthly paychecks, still less a bonus. In the current climate, they should be glad they still have a job. Their organisations are making heavy losses. Does any rational employee expect a bonus, when it's employer is not generating a profit?

    Rational? Banker? Silly me.......

  • Comment number 30.

    Some people in banking industry were clearly overpaid for what they actually did. Judging by their pay - they were very special and valuable to the society, which is not the case. Of course, I do not mean here people at lower level who work hard and get normal pay.

    If the pay of banking executives, speculators, traders, etc. is reduced to more resonable level - it is only fair in the long term. Next generation will start to study engineering, medicine, teaching, journalism, various branches of science and not be tempted to grab easy money at finance industry for doing not much.

    Number of bankers who were too greedy and reckless should at least return their shares and bonuses back to their companies.

    By the way, it is also silly that many footballers get significantly more than Prime Minister. Capitalism has unfair sides.

  • Comment number 31.

    If and when the banks now owned by "us" are returned to the market place - I think they should carry on being owned by "us" by being turned into Mutual Societies - owned by the people who use them - and not by the fat cats.

  • Comment number 32.

    Let's not forget that all the banks have been in reciept of largesse from we tax-payers by hiding funds in offshore tax havens for decades, while still benefiting from our NHS, roads and infrastructure.

    When thinking of banks (as well as other large scale tax-dodgers) the words "blood-succking leeches" leaps inexoribly to mind.

  • Comment number 33.

    I suppose there is no way we are going to hound the lucky few who as you say got away last year with the sack and the bonus.

    Never mind, at least it sounds like both parties have realised the great British public would really gag at future bonus payments.

    I just hope they are willing to back their pleas for restraint with tough action or better still legislation.

    Would it be possible to legislate. I don't see why not.



  • Comment number 34.

    It's nonsense, he weaseled out on actually doing something about last year's, setting up an enquiry and insisting that new contract terms would be written for the future. That lets them pay a bonus for 2008 AND 2009, and they know they won't be in charge in 2010.
    They should be told they've already had their bonus, they've still got jobs. Anyone else whose company goes bust, mostly due to their failure to do as asked and support industry, gets nothing. That's so iniquitous as to be shameful.
    Look back at my last posting prior to this unintelligent drivel on the prior posting and you'll see exactly what Darling's been up to. It now appears the UK is in the clutches of Citigroup and this is a pure fan dance.

  • Comment number 35.

    If banks are to be nationalised and a return to old fashioned banking methods does that mean that bankers will get be able to get a final salary pension just like civil servants and teachers do?

  • Comment number 36.

    gifadanuk at 17wrote.......

    And why do our banks/Utilitiy companies sponsor sports with their obscene wages.

    Totally agree, about time somebody made this point

  • Comment number 37.

    Robert

    Whilst Alistair made his point that lending agreements and future bail-out programmes would be his means of control ( why wasnt this done last October?), I didnt get your impression that he is anti-bonus.In fact he said it was OK to reward hard work in the banks. Neither was George. What Alistair carefully said was that he was anti 'excessive risk' bonuses. But what does this mean? How will he tie down what 'excessive risk' is? You dont know in that game what 'excessive risk' is until it bites you in the preverbial. Most lending involves risk.

    On your point about Barclays, I think you are wrong to dumb-down their reason for not taking the Queen's sovereign as one to avoid being nannied by Darling on pay.There were good strategic reasons, they said, for retaining independence, including freedom on lending discretion globally - remember your point earlier about nationalistic quotas.





  • Comment number 38.


    "Alistair Darling and George Osborne both this morning played the role of grownups who are furious at the naughty, greedy behaviour of bankers."

    Yes, PLAYED is the operative word. If there are no consequences it's just more blowing in the wind.

    # 18

    Absolutely!

  • Comment number 39.


    George Osborne just indicated on BBC that there was no justification for bankers paying themselves 20 x more than a heart surgeon.

    I agree, though I didn't appreciate that heart surgeons were so well paid.

    Of significance is the phrase "bankers paying themselves"

    They have the honour and privilege (ha-ha) of looking after the vast sums of money that we hand over to them. There it is piled up on the table. They have it there ... and simply they can take as much of it as they want and there is nothing we can do about it

    Can a school teacher do this ... Uhm no ... or wait ... unless you parents give us loads of money we'll slit your little darlings throats or cut their noses and ears off.

    It's easier for bankers however because they already have our money there on the table.

  • Comment number 40.

    So If bankerrs are not rewarded for wiping out the tier one capital in the most efficient manner they will take their overdafts somewhere else [sounds reasonable to me].

    Any wishing well unwilling to pay for its own destruction at the going rate, is simply not worth belonging to ,OR ruining.


    Bankerrs must be paid the goering rate ,otherwise they may migrate to ITalian jobs in the appliance of silence

    If a butcher were to make sausage out of what was in the skins at the time,what ought be his reward ?

  • Comment number 41.

    Robert, the answer lies in your own blog. Just look at the pro and con answers that your posts have prompted.

    The government's answer should be NO BONUSES AT ALL.

    A few have argued that this would not be fair to those staff who have worked hard and met their targets. However, how about all of those people in other sectors who have worked hard and now find themselves redundant, threatened with redundancy, on short time, or having to accept pay cuts?

    On this occasion it must be a blanket NO. Further, the response to any request for clarification should be "what part of NO do you not understand"!

  • Comment number 42.


    See above in Robert's piece.

    "...rewards in a market based system are supposed to be linked to risk."

    This is just another mantra that needs dumping like,

    "... the brightest and best"

    Why should bankers and traders get paid huge bonuses for taking risk, when if they fail they do not suffer themselves but still want the bonuses.

    Who's taking the risk ... we are for trusting them with our money.

    I like this risk idea. Wish I were a bus driver. I'd do some risky manoeuvres tomorrow and demand some money from my passengers for it ... maybe £1000 per head.

  • Comment number 43.

    there may be some shrinkage in financial services and the associated industries in terms of big reductions in capital and investments from individuals and corporate funds.

  • Comment number 44.

    If you listen to some the day of reckoning is going to hit - bonuses for the banks is just a sideline diversion.

    http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article8608.html

  • Comment number 45.

    One thing you all seem to forget is that people getting bonuses also pay tax! A lot of the bonuses find their way back into the nation's pot through tax and VAT returns on money spent elsewhere. By stopping bonuses where they have been genuinely earned you are constricting this greatly needed stimulus to the economy!

    Its easy to tarnish every banker with the same brush. The vast majority of them are young people working 10-12 hours a day. Its a small minority who have behaved despicably and landed their institutions and the world's economy in this mess. If anybody who can get us out of this it is I am afraid the vast army of these bankers and not duplitious politicians!

    Of course reform is needed but by this current hysteria about bankers and their pay and bonuses is not the way to go about it!

  • Comment number 46.

    You say "and since rewards in a market-based system are supposed to be linked to risk". Surely rewards are linked, like in other, 'normal' industries, to long-term success?

  • Comment number 47.

    It would be wrong to reward failure on any side. But we should remember those normal staff who signed up for "bonuses" when it is actually a euphamism for their normal salary. They are not executives and have played no part in this mess.

    It seems to me from other news that Ministers are in no place to preach though. Not only do they bear a greater responsibility for the economic mess we are in - after all they set out the frameworks which were supposed to manage the banks and even encouraged them to take risks so that they could enjoy the tax take - but they also have there own ways of milking the system. Witness those who claim expenses on homes they dont own and that are clearly not their main residence. All they say is "its legal". Note they dont say "it morally right". Perhaps we need an "enquiry" into this too - or maybe a resignation or two would help focus minds on public service!

    It is all too convenient to make as much nosie as possible about the banks to distract from their own failings.

    I also dont see what contribution that the debate makes to solving the current "depression" (yes slip of the tongue Mr Brown hey!). It would be better if those involved sat down and thought about practical steps to help rather than playing fast and loose with hypocritcal political games.

  • Comment number 48.

    If bankers have Terms and Conditions of Employment that allow bonuses to be paid when they are clocking up massive losses, then something is clearly wrong and must not be perpetuated. Although there is an argument for honouring existing Ts and Cs, these are exceptional circumstances and a condition of the bailout ought to be revoking or revisiting bad Ts and Cs.

  • Comment number 49.

    My wife works for UKI Partnerships(who own direct Line and Churchill) and are part of RBOS.

    She gets a small bonus - usually roughly £5k pa. She doesn't get a final salary pension.

    She has worked very hard this year as have her colleagues, in a difficult environment where the division was up for sale and there was a lot of uncertainty about job-security.

    Her division is very profitable.

    Why on earth shouldn't she get a bonus this year ???

    If Alistair and Gordon refuse to pay her the pension she has earnt will they pay her the final salary pension that everyone in the public sector gets???

  • Comment number 50.

    Bankers have behaved like gamblers except they haven't taken the personal losses that the average gambler faces.

    If they were really "stars", they'd put up their own money to back winners. Instead what really happens is that a few of them get lucky and work the system to the limit.

    If they get it right, they get out when the going's good, don't get hooked on the lifestyle. If they get it wrong, they become junkies and "need" the mega bonuses to keep their cars, girl/boy friends going.

    The final trick for these scumbags has been getting the taxpayer to support their "essential" role. They've behaved like financial terrorists.

    We need to get these bankers to start serving the people rather than serving themselves.

  • Comment number 51.

    This goes some way towards putting an end to a very nasty phase in the current unsavoury mess.

    Hopefully the top bankers are listening to Darling. However, we'll have to wait to see them sitting on the naughty step.

    Either they'll run round in circles and try to give Daddy the slip, as very naughty children do, or they'll sit still and wait out the time they've earned as punishment.

    But, as many parents know, reform of the way that daddy and mummy have been running things is often as urgently required for a family to thrive.

    Robert, who is going to be Supernanny, to oversee these reforms?

  • Comment number 52.

    Since most of the bank staff are now public sector employees, why are they not put on the same pay scales as all other public sector employees. Ignoring all the fat cats, why does a bank teller or secretary in a nationalised bank still earn more than their counterparts elsewhere?

  • Comment number 53.

    This story really seems to have legs !

    The solution, which should satisfy most reasonable objections - and objectives - is to pay bonus in shares that will only be worth anything if (a) the banks are not fully nationalised and (b) instead are sold back to the public sector at a profit to the taxpayer.

  • Comment number 54.

    I'd like to ask Robert to compile a report on the failings of auditors and the current remuneration system, which means they are paid by the firms they audit. Hardly conducive to an unbiased report.

    These very well-paid, so-called professionals have been allowed to swan around certifying as sound the annual reports of the banks that failed. It should have been their job to flag up potential disasters... but they failed.

    Perhaps they failed intentionally because they are paid by the very banks they needed to blow the whistle on.

    No-one has yet looked into the auditors role.

  • Comment number 55.

    Darling did not spell it out fully this morning. We need leadership with backbone here. From all political parties.

    There should be no bonuses to anyone working for a bank that has been rescued by tax payers. He was full of qualifications covering his backside.

    Those worried about a brain drain? Please. We've had a brain drain since the 80s - just who are all these Brits who work abroad? Waht they are talking about is their friends, their rich friends!

    Now, can we move on to discussing the real mess and who we fix it?

    #4 has given you a topic to investigate so come on Robert....

  • Comment number 56.

    No 38

    Agree absolutely. It's high time that Messrs
    Darling and Osborne were pushed out of their play pen and made to face the outside world. How about making them both serve a probationary period on the national minimum wage for six months or so? That should help them to get to grips with reality.

  • Comment number 57.

    One of the problems of bankers' pay is that it is designed on outdated assumptions that people behave rationally. If instead, we use behavioural economics to construct a pay system, we'll get much better results. Here is how:

    http://www.knowingandmaking.com/2009/02/behavioural-models-of-pay-and-agency.html

  • Comment number 58.

    I find it quite strange that Darling and Brown have chosen the moment to clamp down on bank excesses when the majority of the bonuses being portioned up are for bank workers on the lowest tiers.

    They didn't rush to stop HBOS and RBS's lavish pre-Christmas 'socials' for the higher echelons, or put their foot down over Northern Rock's bonuses for high-level non-executives. But when it's a one-off £250-500 for someone who's earning the wrong-side of £25k a year - then it's an insult to taxpayers and 'inappropriate'.

    Darling and Brown appear to have forgotten these people ARE taxpayers. They're the ones who lose the largest proportion of their income to government largess (taxation); are at risk of losing their homes due to negative equity, and are expected to scrabble around in what's left to pay their bloated utility bills WHILE plugging the shortfall in council revenue in council tax hikes caused by BoE dumping interest rates and Brown's sabotage of Icelandic banks.

    About the only thing that's certain is, when they leave parliament for good, the first bank to appoint either of them to a consultancy or non-executive directorship is going to sink faster than Northern Rock.

  • Comment number 59.

    Bonuses should be paid for good business performance when measured against pre set targets. These targets are frequently a mix of objectives directly impacted by the individual and overall company performance.

    If some bankers have delivered on their individual targets they should be rewarded for this delivery. It is diffcult to believe any overall company targets can have been met and as such, no payment should be made for this element.

    Blanket bans are a dangerous intrusion by politicians who by the way vote on their own pay!!

  • Comment number 60.

    #4 Wharfgirl
    There are still one or two Building Soceties out there who have been, dare I say it, prudent. Well one at least - Coventry Building Society

    From This is Money -

    Once the credit crisis began to take hold of financial markets in 2007, Coventry's deposits from High Street savers grew faster than its mortgage book and were approximately equal to the loan book by the end of the year.

    The society funded any loans given out in 2008 purely through its savings deposits. It is strongly capitalised and is one of the few building societies to conform to the revised Basel II framework: this updated system has more strenuous processes for assessing bank and building society risk.

    Latest news

    • While downgrading a large proportion of its peers, ratings agency Fitch upheld Coventry's rating late last year with only one other society due to its strong asset quality.

    The quality of Coventry's assets is evident by the fact that only a small proportion of its loans at 0.55% are in arrears of more than three months.

  • Comment number 61.

    Is old age creeping on and the fairies have taken over.

    But I should think the Bankers are laughing al the way to the bank and happy that they have conned a whole nation if not world.

    With greed and and mysterious investments they have conned billions of pounds out of the system and then tryed to sell on their mistakes using a formula worked out by a Pasadena rocket scientist which they did not understand.

    They then conned the Government into lobbing large sums of cash into their now bankrupt system. At the same time convincing (seemingly not difficult) to reduce the interest rates to virtually nothing.

    This now means that through various dreamed up clauses the don't have to reduce mortgage rates fully to match,. but they can shave savings rates to virtually nothing over night.

    Effectively it means that they are receiving interest from those that owe money but pay nothing to the savers who provided it. That must be a bankers dream.

    Now they want to stuf their heads deep into the trough so deep with their bonuses that the pigs
    starve.

    We are told that this is so that they won't go off and rip someone else off. I say bye bye and if you cant get another job(sad!) then publish a magazine telling how you did it. Unfortunately you would be in competition with people in a similar predicament trying to live.



  • Comment number 62.

    I am not employed by a bank but I can see that political posturing about banks and bonus payments is demonising the true situation of hundreds of thousands of bank employees across the country.

    In investment banks and on the boards of some big banks there are those who have in the past been able to negotiate fantastic remuneration packages but these are comparatively few. Most widely, bonuses have been used by banks to both incentivise their people and to reduce a bank's fixed overhead costs. This has not been a case of something for nothing because in many cases salaries were frozen and cost of living pay increases scrapped - to be replaced by an element of performance related pay (commonly called bonuses). Bonuses are linked to individual performance and the 'pot' used to pay these will vary dependent on the profit of a Bank as a whole, or more generally the profit of a specific division of a large bank. Individuals who are judged to have exceeded the requirements of their personal performance contracts, set over 12 months ago, will be awarded bonuses. Many people who have not delivered a high level of performance will be disappointed.

    The terms of future performance contracts is another question. There are various issues that I am sure the banks themselves are very keen to address concerning the measuring of individual performance over time. This is a serious business issue and the politicians utterances this weekend appear to contribute nothing to achieving this.

    We face severe economic problems and this issue is no more than a sideshow created by the Chancellor, who has been quiet for a few days, to get headlines for himself. Still, I suppose it is easy headlines for the Sunday press.

  • Comment number 63.


    Post #25 IanPirrie

    You and your banker colleagues should get good salaries.

    But if a bright spark in your Institution has a brainwave and saves the bank 5 billion why on earth do you think he/she deserves a percentage cut of that? It is enough that he should be happy to have done a good job.

    Does a heart surgeon working for the NHS ask for a cut of the salary or assets of the man whose life he saves?

    The banker and surgeon can both hope for advancement to positions with higher salaries, that is fine.

    I think the banking people expect these bonuses only because they have been paid in the past and Institutions have the power to pay them. I think most people now agree that this culture should stop.

  • Comment number 64.

    *17

    Completely agree that raising income tax to 95% for £150k + is a sound strategy for having 'contractually' to pay huge bonuses
    After a lifetime of work I am being offered early retirement at age 63 and 3 months with a £10k bonus
    - and then I don't know where on earth to put it to be my rainy-day money

  • Comment number 65.

    This is the most sensible words I have yet to hear from the politicians.

    Of course all banks should be obedient to the tax payer even barclays and HSBC since if we the tax payer and our children had not sold ourselves to the national debt in the name of helping these banks they would all have failed even barclays . Tax payer help whether via taking stakes or whether cheap loans by the BOE are the same thing ( end of the day the tax payer is bailing people out ).

    The test is whether these words will be used and put into action or whether they are just words like obama's recent salary cap.

    We should have just left the banks fail and non of this debate would be going on.

    One of the reasons why Obama is having such a hard time with his new bail out bill is because people have realised you cannot just put money to save the economy. Just like schemes put into place during the depression of the 1920's to get the economy moving again did not work.



    +Robert +
    Have just heard that the guy who tipped of the SEC on the bernie maddoff scheme has given a tip on two other possible large fraud schemes. perhaps you could look into this and give us more information from your people in the industry.



    Also perhaps doing a piece also on the wrongness of throwing money into the economy ( ie during the economy depression of the 1920's the big schemes such as golden gate bridge, hoover dam etc in order to kick start the economy failed and only made the situation worse and some politicians in the US dont want their states being bailed out ie south carolina's governor http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122670755063129989.html )

  • Comment number 66.


    "The bonuses must be paid because of contractual obligations"

    You are a top exec in a bank that we bailed out and your are still insisting on your bonus ... what a wonderful thing to put on your CV for the next job ... I suppose many lack the morals to care.

    Post #5 commentarian: If there are no such renotiating clauses, what about the government just pushing through appropriate legislation.

  • Comment number 67.

    Bonuses?! They should all be heavily penalised and the money used to help those who are suffering because of their incompetence and greed!

  • Comment number 68.

    As an RBS Insurance employee, I hope we will not be tarred with the same brush as the bank executives who have got RBS into this position.
    From what I can gather, we are the only part of RBS that have actually shown a profit recently. I'm concerned that the bit of one off profit share bonus we have been given in the past will now not be paid because of the total inefficiency of an already highly paid few.
    Messrs Darling and Osborne might be interested to know that call centre staff nationwide don't get paid much either for the unsociable hours they do and the verbal
    abuse they often face.

  • Comment number 69.

    Why stop at limiting the ridiculously high salaries and bonuses of bankers only? A properly progressive tax system, plus much tighter rules regarding tax on overseas earnings might discourage this practice.

    The only problem would be that we would no longer be able to rely on the wealthy to fund our political parties. Any Chancellor considering such tax and overseas earnings changes would very quickly be reminded that this would upset many party donors.

    A system of partial state funding might need to introduced. If this were the quid pro quo, the parties might even welcome the change. In any case the proportion of the total tax take required would be so small that for the overwhelming majority of taxpayers, it would give a very good rate of return.

  • Comment number 70.

    I own and run small business. Through sheer hard work and careful husbanding of resources, my company turned in a small profit in the year to March 2008. Since then, business has been exceptionally tough. Cashflow is extremely tight.

    I now owe HMR&C several thousand pounds in tax. To pay this, I shall have to draw on my personal savings in order to pay the State my dues. Furthermore, my savings are now, technically, losing me money.

    It makes me feel physically sick to think that as I draw down on my savings to pay the tax owed by my small company, that bankers could trouser millions of pounds for making an utter horlicks of their industry - and that my money ends up in their bonus pool.

    This is absolute madness. I'm not sure for how much longer we should put up with this?

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    We should stop caning the bankers. Let's not forget that Gordon Brown was quite happy to dock 40% tax off these bonuses while the going was good. Did I hear him complain? Nope. Did I hear him complain about "consumers" spending themselves into ridiculous debt just to support his popularity as a great chancellor? Nope.

    But we MUST cane the incompetent regulators who, frankly, also knew what was going on - you don't need to be a financial genius to spot the flaws of CDOs and CDSs when the market's getting hot.

    I watched the C-Span broadcast of the Markopolos testimony. It's pretty obvious SEC, (the US regulators) lost the plot utterly. It's just a great shame that we can't enjoy similar fireworks in the UK.

    It's the FSA that needs putting on the block.

  • Comment number 73.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 74.


    Post #49 jiltedJohnwasright

    From what you describe I can feel sorry for your wife.

    She should get a decent salary and decent pension.

    Frankly a 5K bonus isn't impressive.

    My concern is that the spraying around of such small bonuses is used by the people at the top to cultivate the culture that pays their own 6-7 figure bonuses.

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    Well well, Ally and George hop aboard the bandwagon and play to the gallery, whats gong on, anyone would think an election is on the horizon.

    Robbers go to jail, no bonus's paid in there, get em inside where they belong, crooked or what?

  • Comment number 77.

    Er, like - so these bankers are taking HUGE risks? Right. So pay them the same rates as the troops who take Huge risks - on their own account.

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 79.

    "But this will put Barclays in a very tight spot: it wants to participate in the taxpayer insurance scheme, but has also been desperately keen to preserve its independence over remuneration".....

    .... Given the terms and scale of the insurance scheme itself, it would be foolish for any British Bank NOT to participate. Particularly if it was inclined to increase its lending in the kind of way that the government and everyone else wants.

    Besides, being 'desperately keen to preserve its independence' is more than enough to justify Barclays' bold stance in the market of late; without having to tar every single bank employee with the same 'greedy/renumeration' brush, no?....

    Perhaps, Robert, the fact that Barclays will make a healthly profit in the worse year the financial sector has seen since the 1930's is actually a British success story... perhaps?... Although I agree entirely that the huge 'fat cat' size bonuses have simply got to stop. For purely moral reasons if nothing else.

  • Comment number 80.

    A recent all-embracing bankers' get-together was reported as a jamboree where, after receiving their taxpapyers' billions, the bankers expressed utter contempt for the public. The public need to take careful note of this attitude when the question of bonuses comes up. Banks don't believe they were saved by the public. The public are only regarded as mugs to be fleeced by a mechanism differing from that operating last year. From this viewpoint, they feel that billion pound bonuses to be paid in February/March 2009 are entirely appropriate and are their right.

  • Comment number 81.

    This nasty crisis has thrown up an extraordinary phenomenon.....the rise and rise of the public opinion website.
    The BBC is the undoubted superpower in this field, followed closely by the national press.
    This particular site is very potent, as Robert is a national television figure, and has real public feedback interaction.
    The "ordinary bloke" has been "mute" for centuries.....but no more.
    Governments may need to take a bit of notice of these sites in future....the internet marches on.
    Unfortunately the internet may soon be playing another banking role...as more of us are encouraged to bank online and bank branches may be closing.

  • Comment number 82.

    The politicians have a vested interest in battering the bankers - it takes attention away from their own part in the problem.

    It has set up a fascinating race and probably a two speed banking sector - with the likes of HSBC on one side and the nationalised banks on the other.

    I'm fairly sure I know which will win!

  • Comment number 83.

    Having looked at the gloomy side of things, let us look at a few things that could be done to help us out of this disastrous situation. The bankers got us into the mess, and they must help us out of it. Forget about them as the important men of the economy. Forget that old saw that they are the ‘creators of wealth’. They are the reason we are where we are today. There is a right way of going about this, and a wrong way. The wrong way would be to set up an enquiry into bank salaries and bonuses. It will be self-defeating. The bankers will whine about their rights and contracts and a hundred other things and nothing will be done. And to put politicians in charge of deciding the level of earnings and bonuses would be a recipe for disaster.
    The right way is to use a multi-tined fork. One tine would compel them to lend to the Government every cent they earned in bonuses in the financial year to the end of March 2008 and every cent of bonuses they earn thereafter, until the scheme is terminated. The loans can be in the form of Loan Levy Notes issued by the Treasury and made payable to bearer at 0% interest. They could be traded like any Treasury Note, which means that they can be bought and sold by others, making them effectively negotiable instruments of Government loans.
    A second tine would be the capping of salaries for everyone in the economy at £120,000 p.a. no matter how large or important, or how profitable, the enterprise by which they are employed. The cap would not be a limitation on salary size but would mean that the first £120,000 would be taxed and the after tax amount received by the individual. Everything above £120,000 p.a. would be taxed. The after tax balance (up to an amount of 95c in the £1) would be paid to the Government in return for a Loan Levy Treasury Note. This would bring a lot of high flyers into the net and not merely bankers, but it would certainly hit the bankers hard.
    The third tine would be to limit all salaries in any enterprise whatsoever that receives so much as one penny in Government grants, loans, or subsidies be it local authority or bank. Salaries would have to conform to a scale on which the most senior executive earns no more than the permanent secretary at the Treasury and all other salaries are ranged pro rata below that, with future bonuses banned until (if) good times return. The organisation itself would be free to determine these salaries. The only compulsory amount would be the one at the top, and no lower order officer could earn more.
    The fourth tine would get us to grips with the shadow banking system. The shadow banking system is the system of what is known as ‘securitised debt’ and ‘off balance sheet transactions’. They must be swept away completely in the current crisis. And it can be done, though it will mean that the credit contraction is likely to be more severe than otherwise anticipated. But that is the price we must be prepared to pay for to free ourselves from this curse forever. Remember, also, that the alternative is the total collapse of our banking system. It may be that the curse will live on in other jurisdictions, and it may even come back to haunt us as a spectre from time to time. Nevertheless, we must do it. We must bar it in our jurisdiction. We do it by making the judgments of foreign courts based on such debt unenforceable in the United Kingdom, and we statute bar actions on such debt in UK courts. These financing techniques must become extinct in our jurisdiction.

  • Comment number 84.

    As soon as they took money from the government all contracts and bonuses were cancelled. Bearing in mind the fact that many of those denied bonuses were the same ones whose practices had imperiled the Banks, let them sue. I'm sure they have NOTHING to hide.

  • Comment number 85.

    At last a couple of comments I can agree with (admittedly a minority) in regards to Bank colleagues pay and bonuses.

    I work in a high street bank and have done for 6 years, having switched over from a high street retailer, with the promise of more chance of career progression within the Banking sector and better rewards for hard work.

    When I left retail I was an assistant manager, working 50+ hours a week and I took home about 22k a year, no bonus just basic and overtime.

    In the same position in the bank I took home 15k basic, no over time, but the prospect of a 6% annual bonus if the branch hit its targets.

    Over 6 years hard work and progressing to become a branch manager I am now earning 20k and if I hit all my targets I can get up to 10% annual bonus - the same wage I was on before I joined.

    What I find annoying is that I do my job at a local branch level, my results are based on what my team does every day, sales AND service, plus as a manager I am targetted on staff morale and keeping costs under control.

    I understand the fustration of tax payers when they see people on the board of the Banks getting huge bonuses, I feel the same way especially when they are not the ones at ground zero when anything kicks off in the news.

    They are not the ones trying to calm down older customers who are angry because they feel their life savings are at risk of disappearing because the bank is failing.

    Or dealing with self employed/business owners who have seen their credit dry up, worried about how to pay their work force and fustrated we should be doing more.

    Not to mention, sitting down and comforting parents who have been made redundant and cannot afford to pay their bills or feed their families.

    No, this work is done on a day to day basis by a large group of people earning 15k or less a year, it is a tough and pretty much thankless job at the moment.

    If we were to move to a position of no bonuses I would not mind, it would relieve the pressure on many of my colleagues for a start, however salaries would need to increase to compensate for this.

    Many workers accept a lower basic pay because they know they can make it up by providing good service and meeting the needs of their customers.

    They work hard to get their bonus, also getting free shares each year as part of their pay award which are now worth a fraction of what they were.

    I do wish this distinction between bank tellers and CEO's would be made clearer.

    Whilst "1 Billion in Bank Bonuses" might be a great headline grabber, the reality is that most of that is not making it to the people you see every day when you go into your local bank.

  • Comment number 86.

    At last. It has taken some time, but Osbourne and Darling seem to be reading from the same hymn sheet. Banking salaries have been obscene for years. Clawing back excessive remuneration and linking pay and personal risk with banking decisions are essential to restore confidence in a system which has supported legal theft from the taxpayer for years.

    Sign on to the Facebook site by Roubini and Taleb "J'Accuse" demanding immediate repayment of last year's excessive city bonuses (see end of post).

    This public theft has got to stop and those responsible brought to justice immediately. Enough is enough.



    Transcript from J'Accuse:

    Make bankers accountable for the mess! They got rich HIDING RISK and put INNOCENT people in this mess.

    Join the "two horsemen" (Nouriel and Nassim) in extracting justice for the small guy.

    Mission Statement: At Davos 2009, one of the 2 horsemen was quoted as saying that people like Robert Rubin, who received over $100 million serving as chairman of New York-based Citigroup Inc.'s executive committee, need to be punished for their failure to understand the risks their institutions were taking. He said that unless Rubin and others like him are made to mandatorily return their bonuses or are given some other punishment, the system that regrettably emerges is one "in which it’s the worst of capitalism and socialism, a situation in which profits were privatized and losses were socialized. We taxpayers have the worst.”

    "This will stand as the biggest government-sponsored scam in history". Bankers are way ahead; they MISPREPRESENTED their risks; the small guy is paying the price.

    We cannot live in a society without accountability.

    Note: Obama is "reducing" future bonuses after the recent scandal (they used the bailout money to pay themselves). This is outrageously insufficient. We need PAST bonuses to be returned to society --so we stop the cycle of moral hazard.

    [Note: there are laws that make IRRESPONSIBLE persons in corporations liable for their sins against the public.]

    [Note: the only country that clawed back bonuses so far is Switzerland, though by social pressure --the mechanism is certainly easy to implement].

  • Comment number 87.

    JiltedJohnwasright says:
    "My wife works for UKI Partnerships(who own direct Line and Churchill) and are part of RBOS.......She has worked very hard this year as have her colleagues...Why on earth shouldn't she get a bonus this year ???"

    Quite simple really. She shouldn't get a bonus because she is working for a company that went bust.

    My husband's company is a going concern but has not given a pay rise let alone bonus for two years and the company has recently announced 10% redundancies worldwide.

    Your comment just shows how pampered banking staff are. Your wife should be grateful her company still exists and she has got a job.

  • Comment number 88.

    If only...If only we could get shot of Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling and put Robert Peston and Vince Cable in their place, the world would be a better place.

  • Comment number 89.

    I agree with this proposal to limit bankers' pay. I left St Andrews University in the 1980s and pursued postgraduate work and an academic career, which has been rewarding, but hardly remunerative. Meanwhile my St Andrews friends, with degrees of equal quality, were snapped up by merchant banks in the annual hiring fair, and by and large they did extremely well. (Incidentally, one of them told me that in his successful interview with a large merchant bank, St Andrews was not mentioned once; the entire conversation revolved around his economics tutors and courses at Eton). Some of my friends retired aged 40 to very large houses and sumptuous lifestyles in the home counties. When I visit them I feel like a poor country cousin, but I'm beginning to think I made the right moral and career choice.

  • Comment number 90.

    52 - Female Rambo - I totally agree - give the secretaries and tellers at banks the public sector pay-grades and final salary pensions but not the bonuses. They would be much better off.
    According to the Telegraph 4 out of 5 people in the public sector are better paid than like for like roles in the private sector.

  • Comment number 91.

    Just another political ploy to shut everyone up and kick it into the long grass.

    At least Obama has made it policy Brown is holding yet another enquiry.

    Can anyone remember the number of enquiries ongoing and what they are for?

    Has there been an outcome to any of them or have they disappeared off the face of the earth,

    Launch an enquiry and it is no longer newsworthy so we may as well go on to the next subject

  • Comment number 92.

    Robert

    Can you please express your thoughts on the following topics:

    1. Will Western governments who borrowed and continue to borrow huge amounts of money ever pay them back? If yes, then it must mean significant fall in standards of living at some point. No Government will be popular in bringing the reduction in living standards.

    2. Recent financial crisis has dramatically reduced capital flows between East and West. The trade has also greatly reduced. The whole cycles of Eastern export and Western consumption and East providing back cheap money to fuel the West's further consumption are disrupted. That "engine" of the global growth is switched off or at least coughing. The East can stimulate internal consumption and soften the blow. But what do West can do after the stimulus packages are finished?

    It would be nice to read your thoughts about the above.

  • Comment number 93.

    In a "real" business, if the bosses fail , the workers also suffer. No staff should get any bonus until the banks are solvent.

    Just because the bonus was promised, the remaining staff should be think themselves lucky and get on with job. Bonuses should only be rewarded when the whole business is succesfull.

    In the current climate if he staff leave where would they go?

    I lost 90% on RBS "shares" !


  • Comment number 94.

    No 25 is in need of a serious reality check. Does he have a clue what basic salaries are for typical public servants in the NHS? A nursing salary starts at around 14-15K (i suspect 25% of what his basic salary is). 10 years of nursing experience would not lead to a substantial improvement on this.

    I get very bored of hearing the same old bleating that bankers need their bonuses to support their miserly basic pay. This is entirely false and built on greed and personal gain. Basic salaries are still significant in comparison to other industries and the civil service.

    It is about time that banking industry basic salaries were brought into line with other public sector workers now we are the majority shareholder for several banks. Then perhaps they might have something to complain about. And don't let's hear the argument that "unless we get these bonuses we won't stay". Frankly, we should call your bluff, the country is better off without you.

  • Comment number 95.

    Well done Alistair Darling. It is completely wrong that top bankers should receive bonuses for pursuing business strategies (i.e. lending money to people who couldn't pay them back) which even a GCSE Economics Student could have told them was complete madness.
    If employees of the Banks are unhappy about no bonuses - they can always leave and try to get employed at other Banks around the World, which in current circumstances is highly unlikely.
    As far as the "contractual obligation" excuse is concerned - that's easy -just publish the name of any Bank employee who threatens to sue his employer over non-payment of bonus, then watch how many try it!

  • Comment number 96.

    The Chancellor must act now to remove these unwarranted bonuses. This has gone on long enough.

  • Comment number 97.

    re RBS. I see Hampton and Hester have had an overdue clearout of executive directors.

    I checked out the link Friday pm http://www.rbs.com/about98.asp?id=ABOUT_US/OUR_BOARD

    (looks like it's since been updated unfortunately for the changes) to see the board's credentials and those who are leaving's lack of banking experience. Very enlightening. The narrative for Bob Scott was particularly ironic: 'Trustee of the Crimestoppers Trust'.

    Maybe Robert you could phone 0800 and suggest a few crimes for him to stop now he has more time on his hands? Such as how many ex banking executives will be walking away with the best deals as you're suggesting today.

    Glad to hear that Darling and Osborne are picking up the groundswell of public opinion. Common sense needs to prevail.

  • Comment number 98.

    Mmmm Robert, another bolg about histeria, generalisation and very poor understanding? As usual not very helpful, but hey good information does not sell very well whereas catchy titles...
    Barclays is going to publish their results tomorrow and allegedly show that they are very profitable. Why on earth continue to compare them to RBS and the mess they are in...oh yes trust. Well Robert, certainly something you did not help with. You sweeping generalisations, misleading comments and in my view often poor understanding of what is going on are certainly not helping.
    And as far as the governement is concerned, well again in my view, the level of incompetence has been absolutely phenomenal. Almost every statement contradicts the previous. What a mess! The blind leading the blinds.
    I think the well run banks, and despite the histeria generated you have some, should just leave the UK so you keep the failing ones. Then you will see the difference and have a good reason to cry!

  • Comment number 99.

    Let us think who else should get bonuses, just for a tongue in cheek exercise.

    1. Jonathan Ross for excessive diplomacy.
    2. Amy Winehouse for her campaign against drugs.
    3. Lord Archer for his honesty
    4. Gordon Ramsay for his use of the English language.
    5. Sarah Palin for her work with whales.
    6. Gordon Brown for keeping debt down, and maintaining the countries assets during a ten year period of unprecedented prosperity.

    The Bankers
    We all know that they deserve no bonuses at the top. The middle management may have an argument, under their contracts.
    However, if the bank cannot really afford it, should the bonuses be paid ?

  • Comment number 100.

    It's disappointing to see the responses posted to this page. Banker salaries do not compare to the salaries of comparable professionals. An average salary is circa gbp100k. Compare this to partners in magic circle law firms (salaries approx 10 times as much) or the big 4 accountancy firms who make about 500k. Compared to this bankers have much lower security on tenure. Almost everyone who lost money last year has no job at my bank. Banks routinely fire savagely. Bonuses compensate for both base pay and the low security of tenure as well as rewarding performance. If RBS don't pay, they will lose their top performing people and that will cost a good deal more in the long run. Stop this politics of envy. As it is the higher bonuses will mostly be deferred in the form of shares, so will not cost a penny to the taxpayer.

 

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