There’s a lot (and I really do mean a lot) that can be said about bankers and their bonuses. Very little of it is fit for publication though.
What I will say is that the bankers remain disgracefully out of touch with reality as well as the meaning of the term bonus. A bonus is awarded when you’ve done something above and beyond that you’re required to do and have done it particularly well. Not something you get as a matter of course for just doing your job – which is the impression I get about bonuses in the banking industry. After all according to the BBC “[s]hares in the bank have fallen 36% in the last year” – which doesn’t strike me as a particularly bonus-worthy result.
As a further indicator of this distance from reality, Hester’s bonus of 963,000 is 80.25% of his salary. Who the hell deserves that high a percentage of their salary as a bonus (even if it is in shares – the value of which may go up or down)? With the possible exception of those who risk life and limb in the course of their day job I would say no one does.
It is utterly wrong that bankers should be grabbing so much money for themselves after being responsible for the clusterfuck that our economy has become. RBS is particularly wrong in wanting to pay out so much cash when it has been bailed out by the taxpayer and the taxpayer is taking the biggest hit in terms of unemployment, cutbacks, rise in the cost of living and tax increases we’ve seen since the bankers screwed it up. I don’t imagine any member of a bank board is struggling to make ends meet in the same way that the rest of us are (especially those folk that particular board have made redundant).
And as for the bankers’ best buddies Cameron and Osborne – clearly they don’t “get it”. They’ve been going on about how bankers bonuses need to be curbed and how the industry needs to show restraint. But what happens when restraint is not shown and they, as representatives of the major shareholder in RBS, have an opportunity to do something about this executive excess? Nothing! They sit on their hands and whimper that its a decision for RBS, or that it’s up to Stephen Hester to decide whether or not to accept the bonus, or that it’s the fault of the Labour government (who left power, what, 18 months ago?). Why do I find myself placing that pair in the same category of usefulness as chocolate teapots and fireguards?
Well, for now at least.