The Banker’s Apology

The BBC headline reads Former banking bosses say ‘sorry’. Did anyone else feel there was a certain lack of sincerity in their apology?

It has to be stressed that these guys are former bosses. They’ve already been ousted from their positions (mostly – one of them is apparently still retained as a consultant and is said to be earning £60,000 per month) so saying sorry is very much a case of far too little, way too late.

On watching their apology and the rest of their performance, I felt as if I was watching people who had been coached or told the best thing to say (no doubt there were PR people waiting in the wings). And, despite the apology, there still seemed to be a reluctance to accept that the bank’s bonus culture was at fault. Especially when Sir Shred Goodwin started trying to cover trader’s butts by saying they were just doing as authorised and that it was hard to say that the bonus culture was to blame.

I don’t think there is any doubt that the bank’s approach to bonuses is to blame. I used to work for a bank and I can remember bonuses being paid irrespective of how people performed. It’s well over 10 years since I left that job behind but I remember that the directors, executives and higher level managers seemed to get bonuses far in excess of their ability. The lower echelons of staff always seemed to work longer hours and put more into their jobs and were more deserving of their (small) bonuses. But everybody got their bonus. If you’re going to get a bonus no matter what then there is no incentive to do your best.

The bonus culture has definitely contributed to the problem. Another contributing factor is greed – on the part of those who take large commissions for gambling with other people’s money at no risk to themselves. These trader’s get a fat commission once, then twice, and then they’ll risk whatever it takes to ensure they get more. Then of course there is good old-fashioned incompetence – two of these former bosses weren’t even bankers! What do you expect if you place someone without an appropriate background in charge?!?

So I, like many others, remain unimpressed and unaccpeting of this apology. As far as I’m concerned these four can get into a corner and do unto each other what they’ve done to the economy.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Economics and Business Research, has said that:

…the public has a completely inaccurate perception of what makes up bankers’ bonuses…

That may be true but this isn’t just about bonuses. It is about perception, though, and the public’s accurate perception is that extremely highly paid individuals have taken unacceptable risks and utterly failed to live up to their responsibilities thus bringing about a disastrous economic situation that has damaged the lives of millions and ruined the lives of others. Those reponsible do not deserve their ridiculous salaries. They do not deserve any reward for their monstrous failure, irrespective of any distinction the CEBR wishes to make between ‘bonus’ and ‘commission’.

So much for the wbanker’s apology

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