I was immediately outraged last week when I heard the RBS board had threatened to resign en masse if they weren’t allowed to pay bonuses of about £1.5 billion to, in their words, retain their best staff.
I was outraged for a number of reasons and, in a cathartic way, I’ve listed them all so you can be just as outraged as I am:
- We, the British taxpayer, own 70% of RBS, as a result of us, the British taxpayer, bailing them out… and let’s not forget the reasons that we had to bail them out in the first place: they mucked it up both in terms of lending and taking vast risks that should never have been taken
- The board says that it needs to pay these bonuses to retain the best quality staff… presumably the same ones who got it so wrong in the first place, otherwise there may be a brand drain. Hmmm… whose brains are they worried about losing?
- How dare they blackmail and hold us to ransom in this way (see bullet point one) as though they are something special. After what’s happened in 2009 I should think the bankers (particularly the board of RBS) should be conducting themselves with a little more humility. Let’s face facts, without you and me to bail them out they wouldn’t have jobs at all.
But the thing that outraged me more than anything was the frank admission that they and their subordinates are so useless at people management that the only way they can keep them is to bribe them in this way.
Like Ed Vaizey said last night on the radio (The Westminster Hour, Radio 4), if these people want to retain their staff they should be looking for other ways to motivate them other than money. He also said that there’s no great secret to what these investment bankers do and that it is ridiculous for RBS to suggest that no-one else would possibly be able to do their job; that they are, somehow irreplaceable.
I wonder, too, at the reason for the board’s announcement. Was it to try and get us honest folk back on side with them, united against the nasty government? If it was, their judgement was way off.
In fact, there is now a storm of agreement with the board of RBS… yes, you should go.
And don’t let the door hit your backside on the way out!
Oh, and turn off the lights!