City pay and bonus boom revealed

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The financial rewards handed to the City's highest-paid bankers rose by a third last year – and more than 2,700 of them were paid more than €1m (£830,000) in 2012.

Exposing the impact that the European Union's cap on bonuses will have when it is introduced next year, the average bonus paid out was almost four times the size of the bankers' salary in London's financial district.

From January, the EU intends to limit bonus payouts to 100% of salary, or 200% of salary with specific shareholder approval. The change will be felt more keenly in the City than elsewhere in the EU.

The 2,714 bankers who earned more than €1m actually received an average of almost €2m in 2012 – up from €1.4m in 2011.

In Germany the number of bankers earning more than €1m was 212 . In France there were 177, there were 109 in Italy and 100 in Spain. The data is published by the European Banking Authority, the pan-European regulator and based on information provided by local regulators in the EU and the European Economic Area.

Jon Terry, partner at accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: "The data highlights how the UK is going to be disproportionately hit by the bonus cap. The UK has by far the highest number of high earners, with over 2,000 people earning over €1m. This is almost 13 times higher than Germany, which has the second largest population of high earners with over 200 people.

"UK financial institutions in particular will need to review pay structures in light of the bonus cap as the current average ratio of variable pay to fixed pay is 370%."

George Osborne is opposed to the cap on bonuses and has launched a legal challenge to the plan but it is far from clear when the case might be heard or any decision taken.

The Treasury – along with the Bank of England – fears that bankers will receive salary increases to compensate for their lower bonuses – which in turn will make it harder to claw back cash if business goes sour in the future.

Banks are now attempting to devise ways of avoiding the cap. Barclays, for instance, is working on new "seniority" allowances, paid monthly in cash, which will not count as part of salary and will, therefore, not be taken into account when the restricted bonuses are introduced.

HSBC has admitted it is considering whether it raises bankers' salaries.

The EBA pay datahas been published since the onset of the financial crisis. At that time there was no official data about pay levels in the City or across the EU.

In 2010 there were 2,525 City workers with in the €1m-plus pay bracket with average pay of €2.3m and with a much higher ratio, 611% of variable pay to fixed salary.

The City has the most workers earning more than €1m because of the size of its financial centre relative to others across Europe and the EBA shows that it is not only the UK that will feel the impact of the bonus cap.

Germany's 212 bankers received an average of €1.5m and bonuses of 211% of their salaries while for the 177 French-based bankers in the league table the ratio of their salaries to bonuses was 375%.

The City, though, was not the home of the bankers with the highest average across the EU in 2012: the average for the 100 high earning bankers in Spain was €2.1m.

Some countries in the EU had no entries for individuals receiving €1m or more. These included Bulgaria, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia and Liechtenstein.

FCA investigation

The Financial Conduct Authority has ordered an independent review into allegations that Royal Bank of Scotland is deliberately driving small business customers to the brink of collapse to bolster its profits.As the bailed-out bank repeated that the claims by an adviser to Vince Cable were damaging its business, the City regulator instructed other banks to review their treatment of small business customers.

The allegations by Lawrence Tomlinson, entrepreneur in residence at Cable's business department, have caused shockwaves. RBS has already appointed Clifford Chance to review the claims, and now a "skilled person" – an individual conducting a review for regulators – will also investigate.

Clive Adamson, director of supervision at the FCA, said: "We expect all firms to act with integrity and put customers at the heart of their business."

RBS argued that the allegations made by Tomlinson have not been proved and are damaging its ability to win new customers at a time when it is promising to lend £10bn to small businesses.

"These claims have done damage to RBS's reputation and threaten to undermine our ability to build trust with customers and to increase lending to businesses in the UK economy. We need to get to the facts as quickly as possible. That's why we fully support the FCA's work and will carry on with our own investigation," RBS said.

Powered by article was written by Jill Treanor, for The Guardian on Friday 29th November 2013 19.32 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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