I have some sympathy for the protesters camped out at St Paul’s. Billions of pounds have been poured into our defective banking system, yet bankers continue to enjoy high salaries and large bonuses.
Bankers may argue that they contribute to the exchequer. But big banks like Barclays pay very little UK tax relative to their earnings, and Goldman Sachs has been let off £10m in interest on unpaid tax. Small businesses, meanwhile, are routinely hounded by HMRC for late payments and charge interest daily. .
And those very same banks have also played a very large part in the economic collapse which is still being played out in the Eurozone and beyond.
The Vickers proposals won’t be fully implemented until the end of the decade. With the long-term economic forecast bleak, it’s possible there’ll be another banking crisis just around the corner..
The demands of the protesters are often dismissed as naïve and confused, but the position of the bankers is revealed as equally incoherent in a recent Church of England report.
The St Paul’s Institute report finds that around two-thirds of financial services professionals think that people in their sector are overpaid.
Yet about the same percentage declare that salary and bonuses are their principal motivation at work.
In other words, a sizable number are only in it for what they themselves recognise to be over-inflated rewards.
The double-think doesn’t end there. A majority of those asked also believed that deregulation resulted in less ethical behaviour. But when was the last time you heard a banker speak out in favour of extra regulation?
The report argues that there has been a breakdown in the ethics in the City since the Big Bang of 1986 moved trading from face-to-face agreements to the computer screen.
Perhaps it’s just as well, then, that the protest against the banks has been in the form on such a tangible human presence.
Posted by Simon Broomer, Managing Director and Founder at CareerBalance Ltd