Monday, 30 January 2012

The Case for Hester

In case it escaped your attention, and despite my own close association with the finance industry, I've become increasingly disillusioned with the self-serving monster that the City has become.

So it might come as a surprise that I count myself amongst those who feel that, both morally and contractually, RBS Chief Executive Stephen Hester was entitled to his bonus.

If you or I had entered into a challenging role on the understanding that a bonus would be forthcoming provided we delivered on an objective serving the public interest, we'd feel pretty shafted if the rewards for our labours didn't materialise.

Now this isn't a case of an employer reneging on their part of the deal - Hester's bonus was rightly placed on the table in accordance with the provisions of his engagement and in acknowledgement of the fact that RBS has begun to turn around under his stewardship.

Instead, this is the story of a man compromised into foregoing his entitlement because a Government too toothless to regulate effectively wanted to make an example of him by demonstrating they are coming down hard on the excesses of a banking industry responsible for getting us all into this mess in the first place.

And who were there, gutlessly baying over Cameron's shoulders?  The double-speaking Labourites who, in language suggesting they intended to stitch Hester up all along when first negotiating his pay deal, are trying to salvage some credibility by claiming "There is nothing in the employment contract of Stephen Hester which binds the company or its remuneration committee to pay a mandatory bonus".

Hester's reward for stepping up to the plate?  A poisoned chalice, shimmering enticingly … at the end of a stick.  He was never going to win against the full weight of our conveniently united reds and blues, both trying to appease a public rightly disconcerted by corporate greed.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you on this one. Some people are confusing a "fixer" with the other kind of banker, a'la Goldman Sachs.