When George Osborne really wants to hire someone he has shown he is prepared to pay up.
Mark Carney, new governor of the Bank of England, has been handed an £874,000-a-year package and António Horta-Osório, the boss of 39% taxpayer-owned Lloyds Banking Group, was lured from Santander on a potential £8m deal.
So what will he sanction for Stephen Hester's replacement at Royal Bank of Scotland ? RBS will want to avoid a re-run of the furore Hester's pay attracted during his five-year tenure. But anyone being recruited from outside the bank may expect to be bought out of existing long-term reward schemes even before negotiating a salary.
This has proved to be the case even for roles outside the RBS boardroom. When Ross McEwan was hired last September to run the retail banking arm, the bailed-out bank handed him shares worth more than £3m to buy him out of Australia's Commonwealth Bank.
Given the price RBS paid to extract the New Zealander from the Australian bank it is little surprise McEwan is being seen as one of the key internal candidates.
RBS (just about) got away with £3m for McEwan, who is being handed the shares over three years. Internal candidates will not need buying out of existing deals but external candidates from overseas are also being considered. Perhaps RBS should focus on those who are motivated more by the challenge than the pay cheque. A tall order, perhaps.
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