Banking Crisis: reforming corporate governance and pay in the City - Treasury Contents


2  Remuneration in the banking sector

Introduction

6. The banking crisis has propelled the issue of remuneration practices in the banks to the top of the public policy agenda. This reflects two distinct areas of concern:

·  that the level of remuneration has been too high and that bonuses and substantial severance packages have continued to be awarded to senior executives at banks which have been part-nationalised and/or received significant taxpayer support;

·  that the 'bonus culture' in the City of London, particularly amongst those involved in trading activities in investment banks, contributed to excessive risk-taking and short-termism and thereby played a contributory role in the banking crisis.

7. This section will examine remuneration practices across the UK banking sector and consider the charge that inappropriate remuneration practices and the prevailing 'bonus culture' contributed to the crisis. Such a charge has been articulated by the Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz:

The system of compensation almost surely contributed in an important way to the crisis. It was designed to encourage risk-taking—but it encouraged excessive risk-taking. In effect, it paid them to gamble. When things turned out well, they walked away with huge bonuses. When things turned out badly—as now—they do not share in the losses. Even if they lose their jobs, they walk away with large sums.[5]

We will examine what steps should be taken to reform remuneration practices in the banks. We also consider why, if such steps are appropriate, they have not already been taken by the banks' owners, the shareholders.

8. When examining the issue of remuneration in the banks, important distinctions need to be acknowledged. First, the banking sector encompasses a wide variety of activities, and there are significant differences between the activities and remuneration practices of investment as opposed to retail banks. Secondly, whilst much media focus has been on the large sums of money earned by the chief executives of the large retail banks or by traders working in investment banking, it is important to bear in mind the fact that large numbers of employees, particularly those working in the retail banking sector, earn comparatively modest salaries.[6] This point was made forcefully by Lord Myners, Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury, who stressed that "most people in banks are paid quite modestly", before going on to point out that the "average retiree from the Royal Bank of Scotland pension scheme was on a salary of £21,000".[7] Thirdly, evidence we have received has stressed how remuneration practices and, in particular, the use, size and structure of bonus payments in the banking sector differ markedly when compared to other sectors of the economy. For example, Carol Arrowsmith, a Reward Partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP, contrasted remuneration practices in the banking sector with prevalent practices in manufacturing:

On average, it is quite common for the financial services sector to have it so that half as much of their package is fixed and twice as much of their package is variable than for a conventional FTSE 100 company. So they [the financial services sector] have more performance pay. [8]

Charles Cotton, Reward Specialist for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), built on Ms Arrowsmith's observations and said that CIPD research suggested that people in support roles in manufacturing could expect to earn up to 10% additionally through a bonus, that for managerial roles it would be between 10% and 20%, and at senior, including director level, it could be 40% to 50%.[9]

SALARY LEVELS IN THE BANKING SECTOR

9. Ms Arrowsmith told us that "the chief executive in the larger banks in the UK would typically have a salary of between £1million and £1.25 million". In addition, "they would, on average, have the opportunity to earn a bonus of between two and four times that amount" as well as "the right to own shares based on three years' performance which would be somewhere between two-and-a-half and five times their basic salary". Ms Arrowsmith also noted that most chief executives in the banking sector "would typically have a pension, the most common being a defined benefit based on either career salary or final salary".[10]

10. We asked former chief executives of some of the UK's largest retail banks about the size of their reward package. Sir Fred Goodwin, former Chief Executive of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), told us that his "salary for 2008 would be £1.46 million" but that he would be receiving no bonus payment for 2008.[11] In 2007, Sir Fred earned approximately £4.1m of which around two-thirds was in the form of bonus payments. Andy Hornby, the former Chief Executive of HBOS, was paid a £1.9m salary in 2007. Mr Hornby similarly indicated that he would not receive a bonus payment for 2008. Mr Hornby also revealed that, following his departure as Chief Executive of HBOS, he had "a short-term consultancy arrangement with Lloyds TSB" worth £60,000 per month. John Varley, Group Chief Executive of Barclays, was paid £1.075m in 2008.[12] Mr Varley told us that "the executive directors are not receiving a bonus for 2008".[13] Eric Daniels, Chief Executive of Lloyds Banking Group, had a salary of £1.035m in 2008,[14] which he described to us as modest.[15]

11. We also received evidence about pay structures below board level within investment banks. Charles Cotton told us that an equity trader in the banking sector with about eight years' experience, would "get base pay of about £90,000, a cash bonus worth £272,000 (basically three times their salary), and on top of that they would get deferred compensation shares, et cetera, of about £132,000. So we are talking about half a million pounds in all".[16]

12. Many of our witnesses stressed the differences between remuneration practices in the retail and investment banks, arguing that the issue of bonuses was primarily associated with the investment banks and investment-banking type activity. This point was made forcefully by António Horta-Osório, Chief Executive of Abbey, who said that flaws within the bonus system were concentrated in investment banking[17] whilst Sir Tom McKillop, former Chairman of RBS, told us that there was a pressing need to differentiate between retail banking and "investment banking type practices where remuneration is very high" and was almost completely led by bonus payments.[18]

13. We note the concern expressed about the wide disparity in remuneration between different groups of employees in the banking industry, and recommend that Boards examine these disparities.

REMUNERATION IN THE INVESTMENT BANKS

14. We invited evidence from investment banks based in the City of London on their remuneration practices, including the reasons why so many firms within the sector relied heavily upon bonuses to reward staff. Merrill Lynch, whose remuneration structures were typical of many of the investment banks, said that at senior levels remuneration consisted of three components: base salary, an annual cash incentive and equity or long-term cash awards. The portion of employees' compensation that was based on variable pay increased with seniority within the company, with equity awards limited to the most senior positions. This was because equity awards drove a "longer term focus on the bank's results", aligned "employees' interests with our stockholders" and provided "a significant retention incentive".[19] Goldman Sachs told us that compensation was made up of fixed and variable components with the variable component being entirely discretionary and determined towards the fiscal year-end, when the financial performance of the firm was apparent.[20] Nomura structured bonuses using a combination of cash, deferred cash and stock awards, with its stock awards deferred and vested after two years, their ultimate value depending upon the share price.[21]

15. We asked the investment banks to provide us with details as to the share of bonuses in staff remuneration and trends in the ratio over time. UBS told us that in 2001, bonuses represented "68% of total compensation, dropping to 64% in 2002, then held steady in the 65-70% range up until 2007" when they fell to 48% of total compensation.[22] UBS gave an illuminating insight into the size of bonus payments relative to base salary, telling us that:

anecdotally, for the very top revenue producers, for example senior Investment Bankers, a multiple of between 5 and 10 times base pay was as valid in the 1980's as it was in 2007.[23]

Goldman Sachs explained that the proportion of total compensation accounted for by the discretionary component of employee compensation varied over time, reflecting the stage of the economic cycle and the firm's performance. This discretionary component amounted to 58% of total remuneration in 2008, down from 80% of total compensation in 2007, 60% of total compensation in 1998 and 62% of total compensation in 1988.[24]

16. Virtually all the responses we received from the investment banks stressed that achieving a competitive advantage in the sector was based on having 'talented' individuals in post and that the need to recruit and retain staff was one of the key reasons behind the widespread use of bonus payments and high levels of variable pay in the sector. For example, UBS argued that one of the most significant barriers to success within the investment banking industry was "a shortage of appropriate talent on a global scale", and that the use of incentive-based compensation was crucial for banks seeking to differentiate themselves from competitors and other industries:

The premise is that an effective bonus scheme can stimulate productivity, innovation and ultimately profits and increase individual and company wealth. The scarcity and need to retain talent required a focus on incentive compensation that, whilst observed in many other private and public sector environments, is central to investment banks' ability to compete for talent. Variable pay also offers a degree of flexibility to organisations to manage the cost base during volatile periods. The system demonstrates a direct line of sight between returns generated to the shareholder and employee.[25]

Nomura contended that part of the rationale behind the use of variable pay was that "the cyclical nature of investment banking revenues required firms to manage their staff costs carefully through economic cycles" and that paying variable bonuses meant that investment banks could "keep down their variable costs in lean times, while continuing to pay for performance".[26]

17. Other witnesses also speculated on the causes behind the rise of the bonus culture in the investment banks. Sir Tom McKillop believed that investment banking:

is seen as a very people-related activity; that specialist knowledge and contacts are very important, that is very transportable; but also I think an important element may be the history of these investment banking-type activities. They were largely not carried out initially in publicly listed companies; so they were partnerships; there was a very high payout history in these kind of partnerships; and they have become public companies but those practices have carried over into these publicly listed companies and, because of the competitive pressures to recruit the key people, they have escalated if anything.[27]

His former colleague Sir Fred Goodwin thought that many of these "bonus driven remuneration practices" had been imported from the United States[28] but that the globalisation of finance had also been a contributing factor: "It is an area where people and teams do move around the market; and if amounts are not paid and people do not feel they are appropriately remunerated they will move".[29]

18. We also received evidence regarding the highest-paid earners within investment banks. To our surprise, Ms Arrowsmith revealed that it was not uncommon for the most highly paid individuals in an investment bank to be below board level. She contrasted this with the situation in retail banks "where the highest paid people in the organisation are more likely to be board members".[30] Ms Arrowsmith said that this held true even when one bank combined retail and investment banking activities where "you will still find a great many people in the investment banking part of the business who have the capacity to earn or, indeed have earned more than the executive directors".[31] The Association of British Insurers (ABI) made a similar point, telling us that the bonus culture in investment banks extended well below board levels to a wide swathe of staff with "many of the highest paid employees in investment banks operating significantly below board level".[32]

Remuneration practices and the banking crisis

19. A number of influential organisations have pinpointed the bonus culture in the banking sector as having played a role in the current banking crisis. The design of reward systems in the banks, it is suggested, meant that there was a potential for bankers to be rewarded for taking undue short-term risks rather than taking a longer-term view. For instance, cash bonuses awarded on the immediate results of a transaction and paid out instantly meant individuals often paid little or no regard to the overall long-term consequences and future profitability of those transactions.

20. Both the Counterparty Risk Management Policy Group (CRMPG) and the Financial Stability Forum (FSF) have concluded that remuneration structures in the banking sector encouraged excessive risk-taking in certain parts of the industry. The CRMPG's view was that "it is likely that flaws in the design and workings of the systems of incentives within the financial sector have inadvertently produced patterns of behaviour and allocations of resources that are not always consistent with the basic goal of financial stability".[33] The FSF charged that "compensation schemes in financial institutions encouraged disproportionate risk taking with insufficient regard to longer term risks".[34]

21. Ms Arrowsmith told us that "incentives may well have contributed in some part to some of the problems", but thought it unlikely that they were the sole cause of the banking crisis.[35] Brendan Barber, Secretary General of the TUC, took a stronger line, believing that the payment and reward systems in major financial institutions had been "a significant factor in the crisis".[36] Miles Templeman, Director General of the Institute of Directors, believed that "remuneration structures were not the prime cause of the banking crisis, but that the systems that had developed … failed to find the right balance between reward and risk". Mr Templeman went on to say that "in many cases … those risks were taken without full understanding by either the individual or indeed the company in total and that is the heart of the problem".[37] Peter Hahn, a Fellow at Cass Business School, specialising in corporate finance and governance, also reflected on the balance of risk to reward:

One of the challenges that I think you are dealing with is the fact that a lot of these large rewards did not correctly take into consideration the amount of risk that people took to earn those rewards. I think that is probably where we need to focus going forward on the banking system.[38]

Mr Hahn told us that reward systems in the City of London encouraged short-termism, but noted how difficult it was for banks to buck this trend:

What I think is a much more fundamental question about the structure and the short-termism would probably be by looking at the one of the banks that has failed recently. If one of those banks in 2005 decided to be more conservative and hold back in their activity, they more than likely would have had their CEO and board even replaced in 2006 for failing to take advantage of the opportunities, so the structure was one which was one widely supported by players, shareholders and everybody.[39]

The London Investment Banking Association (LIBA), the industry body representing the investment banking sector, said that "the causes of the current crisis are many" and that "it is not clear whether and to what extent any firm's remuneration practices contributed to the crisis". Even it acknowledged, however, that "it is the case that practices at some firms may have fallen short of good practice". Examples of this included where bonuses were determined "with insufficient regard to the risk underlying revenue streams".[40]

22. We asked former and current executives at the UK retail banks whether the bonus culture in the banking sector now needed fundamental reform. John Varley, for Barclays, told us that "if you look at the failure in the banking system over the course of the last two years, it is clear that the banks have contributed to that failure and it is clear that part of the problem has been the issue of compensation".[41] Andy Hornby concurred:

there is no doubt that the bonus systems in many banks around the world have been proven to be wrong in the last 24 months, in that if people are rewarded for purely short-term cash form and are paid very substantial short-term cash bonuses without it being clear whether those decisions over the next three to five years have been proven to be correct, that is not rewarding the right type of behaviour.[42]

Paul Thurston, UK Managing Director of HSBC, acknowledged that remuneration practices had contributed to the banking crisis, but made the point that "not all banks are the same, not all banks were driven to the same forms of behaviour", comments which were endorsed by Mr Horta-Osório of Abbey.[43]

23. The tripartite authorities also agreed that inappropriate remuneration structures had influenced the banking crisis. Lord Turner, Chairman of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) said that "poor practice" [in remuneration policy] had played a role, although "it is difficult to know how big a role". He went on to state that:

the most extreme forms of poor practice are where you have bonuses which are very large multiples of base salary so that somebody is incredibly focused on what they are going to get for their bonuses, where that bonus is based on one year's profit or even in some circumstances one year's revenue, and without taking account of risk, and where it is paid either wholly or primarily in cash and immediately.[44]

The Turner Review, published in March 2009, concluded that there was a "strong prima facie case that inappropriate incentive structures played a role in encouraging behaviour which contributed to the financial crisis". It went on to state that it was very difficult to "gauge precisely how important that contribution was", concluding that:

A reasonable judgement is that while inappropriate remuneration structures played a role they were considerably less important than other factors already discussed—inadequate approaches to capital, accounting and liquidity.[45]

The Governor of the Bank of England spoke of how remuneration structures in the City of London encouraged people to 'gamble': "it was a form of compensation which rewarded gamblers if they won the gamble but there was no loss if you lost it. It is obvious that if you do that you will give incentives to people to gamble". The Governor went on to express astonishment that "shareholders, boards, the financial press, all thought it was a great idea to reward people in this way. These bonuses were absolutely astronomic."[46]

24. We received very little evidence arguing that inappropriate remuneration structures played an insignificant part in the banking crisis or which rejected any need for improvements to pay policies in the banking sector. One notable exception was the City lawyer Ronnie Fox, a specialist in employment law and Principal of City law firm Fox, who said that he did "not think that the remuneration systems in the City, and the bonus system in particular, contributed to the banking crisis".[47] Mr Fox maintained that "a great many people … took risks, and substantial risks, who were not in receipt of bonuses. They took risks because they thought it was the right thing to do, not because of the way they were remunerated".[48] Mr Fox's point that risk-taking was not just the result of remuneration structures was taken up by Peter Montagnon, Director for Investment Affairs at the ABI, who stressed the wider significance of the 'culture' within the City of London, telling us that "culture can add to the risks if it is not properly managed" and that "it should be the function of the boards of these institutions to make sure that they have in place, and impose, an appropriate culture". He emphasised that this did not mean "a culture where no risks are taken … but it means a culture where reckless risks are not taken and people are not rewarded for taking risks they should not have been taking".[49] The Governor of the Bank of England bemoaned the prevailing culture in the City:

One of the things I found somewhat distressing about the lives of many people who worked in the City was that so many of them thought that the purpose of a bonus and compensation was to give them a chance to leave the City, to do something they really wanted to do, having built up enough money to give them the financial independence to do it. I think that is rather sad.[50]

25. The banking crisis has exposed serious flaws and shortcomings in remuneration practices in parts of the banking sector and, in particular, within investment banking. Whilst the causes of the present financial crisis are numerous and diverse, it is clear that bonus-driven remuneration structures prevalent in the City of London as well as in other financial centres, especially in investment banking, led to reckless and excessive risk-taking. In too many cases the design of bonus schemes in the banking sector were flawed and not aligned with the interests of shareholders and the long-term sustainability of the banks.

26. Against this backdrop, and despite the widespread consensus that remuneration practices played a key role in causing the banking crisis, the apparent complacency of the Financial Services Authority on this issue is a matter of some concern. The Turner Review downplays the role that remuneration structures played in causing the banking crisis, and does not appear to us to accord a sufficiently high priority to a fundamental reform of the bonus culture. Such a stance sends out the wrong signals and will only serve to encourage some within the banking sector to believe that they have a green light to continue with the same discredited remuneration practices as soon as the political and media spotlight moves away from them. While the overall level of remuneration paid in the private sector should not be regulated, there is a legitimate public interest in the way in which the structure of remuneration packages might create incentives for particular types of behaviour. We urge the FSA to make tackling remuneration structures in the banking sector a higher priority.

The framework for executive remuneration

27. The framework within which executive remuneration is set in listed companies, including those within the banking and financial services sector, is through the remuneration committee of the board of directors. In the UK remuneration committees have been established in listed companies since the early 1990s as a result of the 1992 report of the Cadbury Committee on the Financial Aspects of Corporate Governance. Executive remuneration and the role of the remuneration committee were subsequently discussed in further reports by committees chaired by Sir Richard Greenbury (1995) and Sir Ronald Hampel (1998). These resulted in the publication of the Combined Code on Corporate Governance in June 1998. The Combined Code was revised following the review of the role and effectiveness of non-executive directors carried out by Sir Derek Higgs in 2003 with some further minor amendments made in June 2006.[51]

28. The remit of the remuneration committee, based on recommended guidance in the Combined Code, includes setting the remuneration of executive directors and recommending and monitoring the level and structure of remuneration for senior management.[52] The Code states that the definition of senior management may be determined by the Board, but should at a minimum include one level below the Board. This tends to vary significantly by company. Consequently, Deloitte said, in some companies the remuneration committee will determine the individual packages of the executive directors and the executive committee (perhaps between five and ten positions) whilst in other companies the remuneration committee could have oversight of a much wider group of senior executives. The Code requires that the remuneration committee be comprised of entirely independent non-executive directors and Deloitte said that the vast majority of listed companies complied with this guideline.[53]

29. The Directors' Remuneration Report Regulations were introduced in 2002. The regulations require companies to publish a report on directors' remuneration as part of the company's annual reporting cycle. This must include, amongst other things, disclosure of the amount of each director's emoluments and compensation in the preceding financial year, and a performance chart to illustrate the total shareholder return performance of the company over the last five years.[54]

30. Shareholders of UK-listed companies are able to demonstrate their views on the company's executive compensation arrangements in the following ways:

·  use of advisory vote on directors' remuneration report;

·  use of vote to re-elect directors; and

·  approval of new long-term incentive schemes.

31. Several institutional investors and their representative bodies provide corporate governance guidelines relating to executive compensation. The two primary commentators are the ABI and National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF). The ABI (through the Institutional Voting Information Service) and NAPF (through Research, Recommendations and Electronic Voting), offer proxy voting services which provide shareholders with information to support the decision on whether to vote for, or against, the resolutions relating to re-election of directors, the remuneration report and the implementation of new incentive plans.[55] We will comment further on the minimal use of these tools by institutional investors.

Reforming bank remuneration practices

32. There appears to be widespread acknowledgment that the status quo with respect to remuneration practices in the banks is unsustainable and that a window of opportunity for reform now exists. For example, the Governor of the Bank of England was confident that "in the future the design of compensation packages will look very different because boards and management of banks will realise that it is not in their own interests to offer these packages".[56] Mr Templeman spoke of the importance of reforming remuneration practices if the finance sector as well as the wider business community were to retain public confidence. He said that business and, in particular, financial institutions depended "on a sense of legitimacy" and must "be seen by the public in general to be acting in a responsible way".[57] Mr Hahn stressed that this was "an extraordinary opportunity to recalibrate the system"[58] a view shared by Brendan Barber who voiced his concern that:

it would be a tragedy if we see some cosmetic changes and then, in a year or two's time, we are expected all to forget about it. This is a hugely important opportunity to get to grips with a very important issue.[59]

33. There is a widespread consensus that remuneration practices in the banking sector must change, especially in those banks which have had recourse to any form of support from the taxpayer. The regulatory authorities must grasp the nettle and implement far-reaching reforms which will sweep away the broken remuneration models of the past. The failure to act meaningfully in this area would be viewed with incredulity amongst the general public and further erode trust and confidence in the banking sector.

THE FSA'S APPROACH TO DATE

34. In the UK, the FSA has begun to address regulatory concerns over remuneration practices in the financial services sector. It published a 'Dear CEO' letter on remuneration in the banking sector on 13 October 2008.[60] Hector Sants, its Chief Executive, defended the FSA against the charge that it had been slow to take action. Mr Sants said that the FSA had taken "a more intrusive approach to regulation since the late summer of 2007" and "you do not rush out and just write a letter upfront":

the traditional FSA approach, which I think is right, is that you do not engage rhetoric first, rather you visit the firms, you see what is going on. You do so to make certain of the facts, you need to be sure that it is true. Prior to that letter we made a series of thematic visits to the firms to address the issue. We are back to the debate, to be frank, we have had here a number of times … Furthermore public letters need to be properly researched in the market place. I think a matter of months to deliver that is not unreasonable.[61]

Lord Turner expanded on these comments, stating that FSA had been working through the Financial Stability Forum on remuneration issues and that it was not factually correct to assert "that there was nothing going on either in the FSA or internationally before the more recent public focus on the issue".[62] He accepted, however, that "both regulators across the world and management until this crisis really failed to focus on the fact that remuneration structures, the structure of compensation, could play a crucial role in the incentives to take risk".[63] Emphasising the political and City culture that had hitherto prevailed, Lord Turner ended by saying that "if you roll back to 2005-06, it was not believed to be the responsibility [of the FSA] and if we had suggested it was the responsibility then we would have been met with a wildfire of criticism from the industry which I think would have received some significant support from politicians as well".[64]

35. The FSA's 'Dear CEO' letter began by acknowledging "widespread concern that inappropriate remuneration schemes, particularly but not exclusively in the areas of investment banking and trading, may have contributed to the present market crisis". It stated that the FSA shared these concerns and that, whilst it had "no wish to become involved in setting remuneration levels", which was a matter for Boards, it did want to ensure that firms followed remuneration policies which were aligned with sound risk management systems and controls, and with the firm's stated "risk appetite". The FSA concluded by reiterating the difficulties of adopting an overly prescriptive approach to remuneration but argued that it was "possible to set out some high level criteria against which policies can be assessed".[65]

36. On 18 March 2009 the FSA published a draft code on remuneration policy in larger banks and prime brokers, which built upon the proposals contained in its letter. The FSA has said that—assuming the proposals go ahead—it plans to publish a final code in July 2009 coming into force from November 2009 and that until that date firms affected should regard the Code as a benchmark for good practice.[66]

37. The FSA was extremely slow off the mark in recognising the risk that inappropriate remuneration practices within the banking sector could pose to financial stability. Its inattention in this area provided the essential backdrop against which deleterious remuneration practices were allowed to flourish in the UK banking sector. The very modest action that the FSA took on this issue prior to the current financial crisis—the occasional speech which referred in passing to remuneration—was far too little and far too late in the day to make any tangible difference to prevailing practices in the banking and the financial sector.

THE FSA'S PROPOSALS FOR THE FUTURE

38. The FSA outlined in the annex to its 'Dear CEO' letter its evolving thoughts on bad or poor practice in terms of measurement of performance for the calculation of bonuses. Examples of this included remuneration policies:

·  which do not take risk or capital cost into account;

·  where performance is assessed entirely on the results for the current financial year;

·  with little or no fixed component;

·  where bonuses are paid wholly in cash; and

·  with no deferral in the bonus element.

The FSA letter also contained examples of good remuneration policies. These included those:

·  calculated on profits, and by reference to other business goals if appropriate;

·  using a measure of risk-adjusted return which takes proper account of a range of risks including liquidity risk;

·  where bonuses awarded take into account appraisal of other performance measures;

·  where the fixed component of the remuneration package is large enough to meet the essential financial commitments of the employee;

·  with an appropriate mix of cash and components which are designed to encourage corporate citizenship and alignment of interests between those of the employee and those of the firm—for example, through shares or appropriately priced share options;

·  where a major proportion of the bonus element is deferred and where a significant proportion of the deferred compensation element is held in a trust or escrow account and where deferred compensation is determined by a performance measure which is calculated on a moving average over a period of several years.[67]

39. Lord Turner provided us with further details of the FSA's future approach to remuneration:

We have a responsibility to look at not necessarily the level of bonuses but the structure of how bonuses are paid, what they are paid for and in what they are paid and how it may affect risk taking, that is our responsibility. Certainly we are looking at, and we have sent a letter to the chief executives of all of the banks asking them for information about the way that the structure their bonus payments. We will be incorporating analysis of that within our normal supervisory processes. We have the ability if we want to just tell people that we consider their bonus structures inappropriate and we have the ability if we want to reflect inappropriate bonuses in a higher level of capital requirement.[68]

40. We found broad support for the FSA's approach to improving remuneration practices within the industry. Most welcomed the FSA's decision to opt for guidance and a good practice approach rather than more detailed prescription or intervention. For example, Jonathan Taylor, Managing Director of LIBA, told us that "the broad principle and the broad framework which is set out in the FSA letter, which sets high-level objectives which the firms should try to aim at, is a good one".[69] Ms Arrowsmith agreed that it was "a very sensible letter", and that the FSA would find it "quite difficult to be more specific" than it had been, principally "because of the diversity of operations within banks" [70] whilst Miles Templeman applauded the FSA's decision to adopt a non-prescriptive approach and used the analogy of the framework for corporate governance as the way forward—setting "a clear, principled code and some best practices", but not attempting to "exactly determine how a company should operate".[71] The ABI also welcomed the FSA's approach and cautioned against a more detailed code as this "would inevitably lead to some banks seeking to circumvent the rules rather than comply with the spirit". [72]

41. Witnesses also discussed possible sanctions that the FSA could deploy to penalise remuneration practices it disapproved of and, in particular, the idea that firms with remuneration practices that the FSA felt promoted risk should be required to hold higher levels of capital than might otherwise have been the case. Dr Hahn supported raising capital requirements on such firms:

if remuneration practices do not meet their requirements the FSA should be increasing the capital requirements of that institution. If its pay structure encourages more risk and recklessness, it should provide more capital for risk. That will make the organisation less profitable. It allows a market solution to deal with a problem, and boards have the flexibility to decide how much risk pay they want to give.[73]

Mr Barber also discussed mechanisms to ensure firms complied with the FSA guidelines and agreed with Dr Hahn that "a higher capital requirement where the FSA is not satisfied with the reward structures is certainly a possible sanction that needs to be considered further".[74] Andrew Crockett, President of JPMorgan Chase International, former General Manager of the Bank for International Settlements, and a former Chairman of the Financial Stability Forum, similarly told us that pay structures appeared to create distorted incentives and that supervisory authorities should "require additional capital holding against the risks these structures create".[75] Jonathan Taylor, however, whilst welcoming the FSA's broad approach on remuneration, expressed concern "if the capital requirement is excessive".[76]

42. The Financial Services Authority has confirmed that it intends, if necessary, to impose higher capital requirements on banks and other financial services firms whose remuneration practices do not comply with its code of practice on remuneration in the banking sector. We endorse this approach, but urge the FSA not to shy away from using its powers to sanction firms whose activities fall short of good practice. We believe that alongside a greater willingness to penalise such firms who fall short of good practice, the FSA must also provide regular reports on what action it has taken on remuneration policy in the banks. This would enhance transparency and provide reassurance to the public that changes in remuneration practices within the sector are being enforced.

REGULATING PAY LEVELS

43. Despite the FSA's assertion that it does not intend to become involved in regulating levels of pay within the financial services sector, there have been suggestions that the regulatory authorities should impose caps on remuneration levels within the banking sector.

44. The Pensions and Investment Research Consultancy (PIRC) acknowledged that "executive remuneration has the potential to be excessive in terms of absolute levels; the amount required to attract, retain and motivate directors of the necessary quality; that justified by business performance" as well as "relative to the workforce in general for their contribution to business success and relative trends within society as a whole".[77] Mr Barber also voiced concerns in this area, telling us that "there is a bigger issue about a growing inequality in the country and one aspect of that is certainly the issue of pay systems in the City of London".[78]

45. The CIPD supported the FSA's decision not to regulate pay levels. It explained that "the FSA believes that levels are a matter for the board within the context of prudent management of returns to employees and returns to other stakeholders, taking into account performance and risk".[79] Mr Crockett, whilst recognising that there was "understandable indignation" among the general public about certain aspects of remuneration, cautioned against regulating levels of pay. He thought that it was "not easy to devise implementable proposals for regulating pay that do not create the risk of unintended consequences" and that it should not be "the role of financial regulation to prescribe overall levels of remuneration, however strongly outside observers may feel that financial sector pay is "too high". Mr Crockett concluded that "trying to limit pay will almost certainly lead to techniques to get around a mandated cap".[80]

46. There is much public resentment at the large salaries and bonuses awarded to some bankers. Vociferous calls have come from some quarters for the FSA to regulate pay levels in the City of London. Whilst such demands are understandable in the present crisis conditions, the FSA's role is to examine and penalise inappropriate remuneration practices in the banking sector solely with respect to their financial stability implications of those practices. We do not believe it should be the FSA's function to regulate levels or the amount of pay within the banking sector.

CLAWBACK, BONUS DEFERRAL, AND SHARE-BASED REMUNERATION

47. We discussed with witnesses the specific examples of good practice contained in the FSA letter on remuneration, as well as the principles and practices which were most important to embed within the banking sector. A number of important themes emerged from our evidence, which many witnesses felt must now be at the heart of remuneration practices. These included:

·  ensuring that the structure of bonuses encourages a better balance between the short and the long-term;

·  greater use of clawback mechanisms and escrow accounts;

·  reducing the size of bonuses;

·  greater use of share-based rewards to better align the interests of senior managers and investors; and

·  limiting rewards for failure.

We will now examine each of these suggestions.

48. Mercer, a company specialising in human resources, explained that although the executive directors in banks have a portion of their overall reward paid in the form of long-term incentives (i.e. measured over a period of three years) the arrangements for other senior employees generally have a much shorter time-frame in terms of what is measured and when the reward is paid. It contended that "to encourage long-term sustainable growth and potentially increase financial stability, the principles of the long term incentives paid at the top of the house should be applied more widely across the organisation".[81] It suggested ways in which this could be accomplished through, for example, deferring more significant portions of annual cash awards and allowing the deferred cash to vest to participants periodically (e.g. an equal portion every six months for two to three years). For Mercer, that "deferral encourages and rewards stable consistent profitability in contrast with one-off gains based on more risky strategies".[82] Deloitte also discussed the importance of ensuring an appropriate balance between short-term and long-term targets, arguing that this was necessary to "avoid undue emphasis on short-term delivery at the expense of long term sustainable performance".[83] It said this could be "encouraged by holding a portion of remuneration back over a longer time-frame and making this subject to forfeiture if performance is not sustained".[84]

49. Clawback refers to previously given monies or benefits that are taken back as a consequence of particular circumstances. In the context of remuneration policy, it refers to the practice of recovering bonuses where, for example, the profits on which the bonus payment was made turn out to be illusory or do not materialise. As the ABI told us "such measures might include arrangements to clawback bonuses that have been paid for transactions that subsequently turned out to involve significant loss or some form of deferral".[85] We discussed the use of clawback mechanisms in the banking sector with our witnesses. Ms Arrowsmith told us that "at board level very few people have claw back". She said that she was not aware of the extent to which clawback was used for below board level staff, but thought that it was "much less common now than it used to be", which she attributed to "relatively recent competitive pressure" within the industry.[86] Ms Arrowsmith emphasised that 'clawback' was one of the safeguards firms in the banking sector should look to build into their remuneration practices.[87] Mr Montagnon discussed claw-back in the context of rewards for failure, telling us that "claw-back would be quite a useful instrument for preventing that".[88]

50. We also discussed the use of escrow accounts and deferred bonuses with witnesses. (under escrow accounts sums awarded to an individual are held by a third party and their release is contingent on conditions being met). Mr Montagnon felt that it was "a very useful tool" which would enable companies to get around the problem "that, once you have paid the money out, it is very difficult to get it back". He went on to say:

Actually we, as investors, think that it should be possible anyhow to write into people's contracts that the money may be recovered if it turns out to have been paid in connection with transactions that have generated large losses. I think you could look at writing that into contracts, but the escrow system, I think, is quite valuable. I would not think it is actually relevant for every company in every sector, but, in this particular instance where we want to make sure that people have not been running excessive risks, I think it is a useful idea and we would like to see it spread.[89]

51. The use of mechanisms to defer or clawback bonus payments from senior and board level staff should be encouraged to align the interests of senior staff more closely with those of shareholders. We support the more widespread use of such tools within the sector, which would help discourage excessive risk-taking and short-termism.

BONUSES AS A PROPORTION OF TOTAL REMUNERATION

52. As we have noted, the banking sector is unique in terms of the size of bonus payments and the high proportion of the total reward package which is based on variable pay. Brendan Barber told us that he was not opposed to bonuses, but that "the weight given to bonuses as an element in the overall remuneration of people in the financial world is wildly over-valued and they ought to play a much smaller part in the overall package that people receive".[90] The ABI said that one solution to the problem of large bonuses in investment banks "might be to raise the fixed base pay element and reduce the bonus potential". As a result "employees would be less tempted to take risks, but the business as a whole would face a higher level of fixed salary cost while revenues would continue to fluctuate with the cycle".[91]

53. The banking sector and, in particular, the investment banks are clear outliers in terms of the extent to which they rely upon variable pay and bonus payments to reward staff. We note that the prevalence of variable pay practices within the sector partly reflects the cyclical nature of investment banking. There is, however, considerable scope for the bonus element to be linked more closely to long-term performance and the achievement of shareholder value.

SHARE-BASED REMUNERATION

54. The remuneration of senior executives in the banking sector commonly involves being rewarded through shares or share options. Deloitte told us that bonus schemes typically consisted of an annual bonus as well as a deferred bonus payment. The deferred bonus was intended to aid retention and encourage share ownership or to reward longer term performance, whilst firms also provided long-term incentive plans and share options with a view to incentivising the generation of longer term shareholder value, which were commonly share based for greater alignment with shareholders.[92]

55. The FSA has encouraged greater use of shares in bonus payments in its recent review of remuneration policy. However, whilst supportive of share-based remuneration, Lord Turner cautioned against over-stating what could be achieved through greater use of share-based remuneration. He noted that the "head of Lehman Brothers owned a hell of a lot of the stock of Lehman's so when people are convinced by irrational exuberance, the fact that they own a lot of the stock of the company, they are still taken in with their own rhetoric".[93] Indeed, Mr Hornby told us he had invested his entire cash bonus for the last eight years in HBOS shares which he said meant that his interests had been "entirely aligned with shareholders".[94] Sir Fred Goodwin said that he done likewise and had never sold a share in Royal Bank since he had joined and "that would apply to most of my senior colleagues".[95]

REFORMS TO REMUNERATION PRACTICES IN THE BANKING SECTOR

56. The FSA's decision to take a more proactive stance on remuneration has, in part, acted as the catalyst for banks to take a serious look at current remuneration policies and there are signs that some in the industry have recognised the need for change. LIBA referred to initiatives being undertaken by industry bodies such as the Counterparty Risk Management Group and the Institute of International Finance (IIF) as evidence that the industry was serious about tackling short comings in remuneration practices within the sector. LIBA told us that the IIF had issued Principles of Conduct intended to act as 'broad guidelines' to help firms 're-align compensation incentives with shareholder interests and the realisation of risk-adjusted returns'.[96]

57. A number of the banks giving oral evidence discussed changes they were introducing to remuneration practices. Mr Thurston said that HSBC had been "going through a period of adjustment on the bonus and incentive arrangements across the whole bank for some period of time". He told us that there were three key elements to the reforms:

the first is that you get the measures right, that the measure of success is not just driven by short-term profit but by measures that include quality of the business, the risk management in the business; the second, it is the quantum of bonus that is paid and making sure that is in line with the relative success of the business and the returns to shareholders; and the third is the method in which those bonuses are paid. We are increasingly moving towards deferral of bonus payments so that there is no immediate cash payment but there is a payment over a period of time.[97]

58. Mr Varley told us that Barclays had been reviewing its remuneration structures for some months and that "our intention is that at our Annual General Meeting we will share with our external shareholders the outcome of that review". The thrust of the review was to ensure that safeguards were in place so "that bank boards are in a position where they can have some retrospection of performance". He concluded by saying that "there are many systems in place that facilitate that, but whether they are as extensive as they should be is what we are reviewing at the moment".[98] He rejected the suggestion that Barclays should dispense with short-term cash bonuses altogether, arguing that "I think it would be wrong to say that we will be getting rid of them, because … it would be natural for our branch staff to be paid [bonuses] in cash".[99] When quizzed about short-term cash bonus payments for more senior executives, he said that "as they become more senior, as their compensation opportunity grows with that seniority, the ratio of shares rises very significantly".[100]

59. António Horta-Osório also discussed the sorts of reforms in remuneration in the banking sector that he would like to see take place and which he said were already taking place at Abbey:

there are two criteria in my opinion that should be in-house going forward. Number one, as was mentioned, the bonuses do not only refer to one year but have a multi-year process in their concession; number two that a growing proportion of those bonuses are paid in shares so that you align more fully the interests of senior executives with shareholders. Having said that, I think those are decisions that should be pushed forward by shareholders through the remuneration committees.[101]

60. We note that some sections of the banking industry have adopted a proactive stance to reforming remuneration policy and that some firms have already begun to review and amend their practices. That said, whilst there has been much discussion of the need for reform, we are concerned that genuine action continues to lag behind. We have a suspicion that many bankers remain unconvinced by the need for change and believe that, once 'the storm dies down', it will be a case of 'business as usual'. For this reason, self-regulation or a light-touch approach to regulating remuneration in the banking sector is unacceptable. The Government, the FSA and relevant international institutions must exercise vigilance and ensure that the discredited practices of the past do not creep back in under the radar of the authorities.

The role of shareholders in remuneration

61. Much of the evidence we received on remuneration in the banking sector focused on the role of shareholders and, in particular, whether they failed to exercise effective control over remuneration policies, so as to prevent excessive risk taking or activities inconsistent with corporate wellbeing. Mercer, in its submission, was clear that shareholders as the owners of the business should be primarily responsible for commenting on, and seeking changes to, remuneration practices in financial institutions. It believed that the role of the FSA should be "to provide guidance and information to help shareholders understand where there are risks in the banking sector by monitoring different practices and reporting on them".[102] LIBA made a similar point, suggesting that "Remuneration committees, and shareholders (in relation to main board members of UK listed companies), must take ultimate responsibility for ensuring there is appropriate oversight of remuneration packages and structures".[103]

62. We received evidence pointing to the weak position that shareholders often found themselves in when seeking to engage on remuneration issues in firms in which they are investors. The Investment Managers Association (IMA) told us that "currently, in the UK investors can only engage with remuneration issues at board level and even then they only have a non-binding advisory vote on the remuneration report".[104] Mr Montagnon noted that there were serious structural blockages, which meant that investors lacked "any legal ability to vote on remuneration other than for executive directors and main board directors of listed companies and in cases where there are diluted share schemes, so we are really rather hamstrung in terms of direct intervention".[105] The ABI expanded on this issue in written evidence, pointing out that UK institutional investors often had no leverage over overseas banks operating in London because "many of the investment banks operating in London are subsidiaries of overseas banks in which UK shareholders have no holdings".[106]

63. LIBA explained that UK company law requires quoted companies to publish, with their annual report and accounts, detailed information on directors' remuneration and that "the FSA has the power to obtain information on remuneration arrangements in UK regulated firms".[107] However, despite the disclosure arrangements currently in place, we received evidence from a number of organisations arguing for a broadening of the disclosure regime for financial institutions to include remuneration of senior staff below board level as one possible mechanism to strengthen the ability of shareholders to provide more effective oversight of compensation practices in financial firms. Mr Templeman told us that "if you earn above a certain amount, regardless of your position in the company, your role in that company could be very significant and, therefore, should be a matter of external transparency".[108]

64. PIRC contended that "remuneration policy at financial institutions poses challenges to shareholders since often the effects below board level are very important", and were critical of the fact that "the nature of company reporting on remuneration further increases the focus on board members with, for example, typically little or no discussion of pay across the company".[109] It concluded that "there is a compelling argument that further consideration should be given to the rules covering disclosure of information in companies' remuneration report" and that "companies should disclose the remuneration structures of senior managers, in order to enable shareholders to assess their appropriateness".[110] The ABI also believed that it would help assist shareholders in assessing directors' packages if companies were obliged to offer some disclosure about remuneration at below board level:

it would be useful to know whether a significant body of employees were paid more than the main board directors, if so by what margin and on what performance basis. This would help shareholders satisfy themselves that there was an overall coherence to remuneration within each relevant institution.[111]

Mr Montagnon told us that such disclosure should be published, "not in the directors' remuneration report, but in the business review of the companies, about how the board views, and is managing, those risks so that, if there is a risk to the entire company, then we can engage with the board and encourage them to manage it better".[112] LIBA, however, felt that current arrangements struck an appropriate balance between "the need for stakeholders in a company to have access to relevant information on the compensation of senior executives, the need to avoid unnecessary public disclosure of private information about a larger group of individuals, and the need of the FSA to obtain the information it needs to further the public interest through its oversight of remuneration arrangements".[113]

65. It is not uncommon for many of the highest paid individuals in an investment bank to be below board level. Despite this, there is currently no disclosure of remuneration for senior and highly-paid individuals who happen not to sit on the board. We believe that there is a compelling case to reform the disclosure rules in the remuneration report of banks and other financial services companies to include disclosure of remuneration of senior managers at sub-board level. Such firms should be required to report details of the remuneration structures in place for high-earning individuals falling within particular pay bands, including the use of deferred bonus payments or clawback mechanisms. The provision of such information is necessary in order to strengthen the ability of shareholders to provide more effective oversight of compensation practices in financial firms and assess the appropriateness of those practices.

66. Shareholders have a vote on the remuneration report, but this vote is advisory and non-binding. Ms Arrowsmith told us that the:

legislation that was put in place in 2002 giving shareholders an advisory vote has absolutely stepped up the quality and the frequency of dialogue with shareholders.[114]

She felt that there was a "very real engagement" between the biggest shareholders and particularly the medium-sized and larger public companies.[115] That said, Ms Arrowsmith acknowledged that communication with shareholders could still be further improved. She told us that "the written reports that go to shareholders are not always the easiest things to read and to understand". She did, however, express caution about how much time shareholders had to spend on individual company research, noting "they own shares in a lot of companies." [116]

67. PIRC advocated a review of the use of shareholders' voting rights by institutional investors in respect of remuneration. The UK has now had six years' experience of a shareholder advisory vote on remuneration policy, which PIRC believed was enough time to warrant "a comprehensive review of both the impact of the vote on executive remuneration … and how shareholders have used the rights in practice". PIRC felt a review was important because it did "not believe that all fund managers have exercised these rights effectively on behalf of their clients".[117]

68. Shareholders have had an advisory vote on companies' remuneration reports since 2002. However, our evidence suggests that this advisory vote has largely failed to promote enhanced scrutiny of, or provided an effective check on, remuneration policies within the sector. We believe the time is now ripe for a review of how institutional investors with holdings in the financial services sector have exercised these rights. We expect the Walker Review on corporate governance in the banking sector to examine this issue as part of its work.

Remuneration committees and the role of non-executive directors

69. We have previously noted that remuneration committees are the key decision-making body with respect to the remuneration of executive directors. We asked whether remuneration committees had sufficient expertise and resources to carry out their role effectively, what the role of remuneration consultants was in the process, and what reforms could enhance the effectiveness of remuneration committees.

70. There was a widespread consensus in our evidence that the banking crisis had exposed flaws in the operation of remuneration committees. Mr Crockett's belief that there was a need for "greater independence in compensation committees, greater expertise among members of these committees and greater transparency to their decisions" was typical of many of the submissions we received, as was Mr Templeman's assertion that there was a pressing need for remuneration committees to be "seen as more expert".[118]

71. Whilst noting that it was dangerous to generalise, the ABI highlighted an increased "tendency for remuneration committees in a number of sectors to give in to pressure from executives for excessive packages or undemanding performance conditions".[119] Mercer focused on the fact that "many remuneration committees in the banking sector failed to identify the risks inherent in the business strategies and so did not incorporate risk sufficiently into the way committees approach the design of compensation packages". It felt this problem could be overcome "through stronger links between audit and remuneration committees".[120] The ABI also discussed the links between the various committees of the main board, arguing that:

All decisions around remuneration are significant risk factors. We consider that they should not be the principal domain of the Remuneration Committee whose job is to determine the remuneration of directors. The board as a whole should be responsible and the Risk Committee could take a leading role.[121]

72. A number of submissions, including those from Legal & General and the ABI, called for remuneration committees to be made more accountable. The ABI argued that the governance processes related to remuneration could be improved through making all directors seek re-election annually, which they believed would "increase the accountability for the decisions taken by Remuneration Committees".[122] A similar proposal was put forward by Legal & General who said that the "annual re-election of the Chairman of the Remuneration Committee would provide an extra focus for shareholders when considering the vote on the remuneration report".[123]

73. Our witnesses also discussed the composition of remuneration committees. Some favoured changes in the composition of committees so as to bring greater expertise on board, whilst others felt that stakeholders such as employees should also be represented on the Committee. Brendan Barber was concerned that remuneration committees "draw from a fantastically narrow pool of people as do the directors of our major companies generally" and thought that there was a danger of them operating like a rather cosy club with cross-membership between companies". He posed the question "what would be wrong with the workforce being able to be represented within the discussions in the remuneration committees of our major companies, including the banks?"[124] Mr Montagnon cautioned, however, that by putting representatives from outside the board on to those committees would mean that "you are changing the structure and the approach fundamentally".[125]

74. Lord Myners told us that remuneration committees needed to have "a wide range of inputs and it would … lead to better decisions if they took advice from more than just the benefits consultants, the people that Warren Buffett describes as 'Ratchet, Ratchet and Ratchet'". He saw "no reason therefore why investors should not express views and why employees, either directly or through trade unions, should not also have an opportunity to input their views", but that decision-making powers must remain with directors.[126]

75. Remuneration is the primary responsibility of management. Management controlled by the board have responsibility for setting pay throughout the organisation. The role of remuneration committees is more limited. They have responsibility for the oversight of remuneration for senior executives within their firm. The events of the last eighteen months have demonstrated clear failings in the operation of many remuneration committees in the banking sector. Too often remuneration committees appear to have operated as 'cosy cartels', with non-executive directors all too willing to sanction, as the ABI notes, the ratcheting up of remuneration levels for senior managers whilst setting relatively undemanding performance targets. The failures of remuneration committees to fulfil their function effectively demonstrates the need for reform in this area. We believe that there is a pressing need for increased expertise on remuneration committees as well as increased transparency and independence of mind.

76. We believe that there is a compelling case for strengthening the links between the remuneration, risk and audit committees, given the cross-cutting nature of many issues, including remuneration.

77. It is our view that remuneration committees would also benefit from having a wider range of inputs from interested stakeholders—such as employees or their representatives and shareholders. This would open up the decision-making process at an early stage to scrutiny from outside the board, as well as provide greater transparency. It would, additionally, reduce the dependence of committees on remuneration consultants. We expect Sir David Walker seriously to consider this issue as part of his review of corporate governance in the banking sector.

Remuneration consultants

78. We also examined the role of remuneration consultants in the context of their advice to members of remuneration committees. Deloitte explained that it saw "the role of the adviser to the committee as contributing to, and enhancing the deliberations of, the remuneration committee, and providing expertise and knowledge of market practice which will allow the committee to make informed decisions". Deloitte was clear that it did "not decide either the quantum or indeed the structure of the remuneration which is the responsibility of the committee". Instead its role as independent external advisers included:

·  reviewing current remuneration arrangements and providing input and advice on the restructuring of arrangements and the design of new arrangements, giving consideration to the alignment with business strategy and the external market;

·  providing relevant and current market data;

·  ensuring committees are aware of shareholder views and concerns and facilitating an open dialogue between companies and shareholders and their representative bodies on remuneration matters.

Finally, Deloitte clarified the relationship of remuneration consultants with management, stating that they consultants "work with management at the request of the committee, for example to gather information to allow us to understand and review current arrangements or to help support implementation, but our responsibilities are always to the committee".[127]

79. Mr Montagnon accused remuneration consultants of having "contributed to the general ratchet in executive remuneration because they seem to have business models which require them to earn fees which require them, therefore, to modify packages every year which, therefore, requires the packages to go up".[128] Mr Barber also spoke of the 'ratchet' effect telling us that it was remarkable how many remuneration consultants "are given remits which refer to a benchmark of the upper quartile. If endlessly, year after year after year, you are referred to the upper quartile, then that is an endless ratcheting and an ever-increasing gap with the rest of the workforce".[129]

80. Mr Montagnon cited concerns over conflicts of interest if the same consultants were advising both the remuneration committee and the company management: "if they are advising the remuneration committee and not the management, that is one thing and, if they are advising the management and the remuneration committee, it gets a bit complicated, and some of them tell me that that is what they do".[130] The ABI argued that the introduction of a code of ethics was necessary:

Given the important role these consultants play and the inherent contradictions in their business model between seeking to supply independent advice whilst having a vested interest in creating more complexity and change, we believe that they should have a Code of Ethics. This Code should include details on how to manage the conflicts of interest, a prohibition on working for both the non-executives and the management at a company, and a commitment to responsible marketing and to use benchmarks with integrity.[131]

81. Ms Arrowsmith concurred that remuneration consultants needed to be very clear about who they worked for. She told us that in her role, she worked for the company: "the company is the remuneration committee, it is not the self-interest of management, and I might work with management to get the facts, but I do not work for the management and it is a very important distinction.[132] She also told us that she was "very comfortable with a code of ethics. I have lived by it all my working life, so I cannot see any reason why anybody should have an objection."[133]

82. We have received a body of evidence linking remuneration consultants to the upward ratchet of pay of senior executives in the banking sector. We have also received evidence about potential conflicts of interest where the same consultancy is advising both the company management and the remuneration committee. Both these charges are serious enough to warrant a closer and more detailed examination of the role of remuneration consultants in the remuneration process. We urge Sir David Walker to examine these issues and, in particular, to consider whether remuneration consultants should be obliged to operate by a code of ethics, a proposition which we find attractive.




5 5   'Joseph Stiglitz: You ask the questions', Independent, 24 March 2008 Back

6 6   Q 2120 Back

7 7   Q 2741 Back

8 8   Q 514 Back

9 9   Q 516 Back

1 10  0 Q 499 Back

1 11  1 Qq 1656-1657 Back

1 12  2 Barclays plc, Annual Report 2008, p 175 Back

1 13  3 Q 1949 Back

1 14  4 Lloyds Banking Group, Annual Report 2008, p 86 Back

1 15  5 Q 2120 Back

1 16  6 Q 499 Back

1 17  7 Q 1940 Back

1 18  8 Q 1659 Back

1 19  9 Ev 701 Back

2 20  0 Ev 616 Back

2 21  1 Ev 624 Back

2 22  2 Ev 630 Back

2 23  3 Ev 630 Back

2 24  4 Ev 616-17 Back

2 25  5 Ev 630 Back

2 26  6 Ev 624 Back

2 27  7 Q 1662 Back

2 28  8 Q 1663 Back

2 29  9 Q 1664 Back

3 30  0 Q 512 Back

3 31  1 Q 513 Back

3 32  2 Ev 106 Back

3 33  3 The Counterparty Risk Management Group,The Report of the CRMPG III: Containing systemic risk, August 2008, p 5 Back

3 34  4 Financial Stability Forum, Report of the Financial Stability Forum on enhancing market and institutional resilience, April 2008, p 8 Back

3 35  5 Q 495 Back

3 36  6 Q 606 Back

3 37  7 Q 650 Back

3 38  8 Q 513 Back

3 39  9 Q 573 Back

4 40  0 Ev 118 Back

4 41  1 Q 1905 Back

4 42  2 Q 1658 Back

4 43  3 Qq 1943-1944 Back

4 44  4 Q 2232 Back

4 45  5 Financial Services Authority, The Turner Review: A regulatory response to the global banking crisis, March 2009, p 80 Back

4 46  6 Q 2371 Back

4 47  7 Q 496 Back

4 48  8 Q 497 Back

4 49  9 Q 613 Back

5 50  0 Q 2418 Back

5 51  1 Deloitte & Touche LLP, Know the ropes: the remuneration committee knowledge, February 2008  Back

5 52  2 The Combined Code on Corporate Governance sets out standards of good practice in relation to issues such as board composition and development, remuneration, accountability and audit and relations with shareholders; Financial Reporting Council, Combined Code on Corporate Governance, June 2008 Back

5 53  3 Ev 113 Back

5 54  4 Ev 113Back

5 55  5 Deloitte & Touche LLP, Know the ropes: the remuneration committee knowledge, February 2008 Back

5 56  6 Q 2371 Back

5 57  7 Q 613 Back

5 58  8 Q 603 Back

5 59  9 Q 607 Back

6 60  0 FSA, Dear CEO letter on remuneration policies, 13 October 2008 Back

6 61  1 Q 2239 Back

6 62  2 Q 2245 Back

6 63  3 Q 2246 Back

6 64  4 Q 2248 Back

6 65  5 FSA, Dear CEO letter on remuneration policies, 13 October 2008 Back

6 66  6 FSA, Draft Code on remuneration practices, 18 March 2009 Back

6 67  7 FSA, Dear CEO letter on remuneration policies, 13 October 2008 Back

6 68  8 Q 112 Back

6 69  9 Q 626 Back

7 70  0 Q 547 Back

7 71  1 Q 620 Back

7 72  2 Ev 107 Back

7 73  3 Q 545 Back

7 74  4 Q 618 Back

7 75  5 Ev 294 Back

7 76  6 Q 626 Back

7 77  7 Ev 256 Back

7 78  8 Q 606 Back

7 79  9 Ev 121 Back

8 80  0 Ev 294 Back

8 81  1 Ev 112 Back

8 82  2 Ibid. Back

8 83  3 Ev 114/115 Back

8 84  4 Ev 115 Back

8 85  5 Ev 107 Back

8 86  6 Q 538 Back

8 87  7 Q 539 Back

8 88  8 Q 625 Back

8 89  9 Q 662 Back

9 90  0 Q 615 Back

9 91  1 Ev 106 Back

9 92  2 Ev 114 Back

9 93  3 Q 2233 Back

9 94  4 Q 1657 Back

9 95  5 Q 1658 Back

9 96  6 Ev 117 Back

9 97  7 Q 1935 Back

9 98  8 Q 1936 Back

9 99  9 Q 1938 Back

1 100  00 Q 1939 Back

1 101  01 Q 1940 Back

1 102  02 Ev 112 Back

1 103  03 Ev 118 Back

1 104  04 Ev 228 Back

1 105  05 Q 624 Back

1 106  06 Ev 106 Back

1 107  07 Ev 119 Back

1 108  08 Q 628 Back

1 109  09 Ev 255 Back

1 110  10 Ev 259 Back

1 111  11 Ev 107 Back

1 112  12 Q 624 Back

1 113  13 Ev 119 Back

1 114  14 Q 560 Back

1 115  15 Ibid. Back

1 116  16 Q 561 Back

1 117  17 Ev 255 Back

1 118  18 Ev 294; Q 634 Back

1 119  19 Ev 107 Back

1 120  20 Ev 112 Back

1 121  21 Ev 107 Back

1 122  22 Ev 108 Back

1 123  23 Ibid. Back

1 124  24 Q 632 Back

1 125  25 Q 644 Back

1 126  26 Q 2792 Back

1 127  27 Ev 114 Back

1 128  28 Q 643 Back

1 129  29 Q 644 Back

1 130  30 Q 643 Back

1 131  31 Ev 107 Back

1 132  32 Q 578 Back

1 133  33 Q 579 Back


 
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