Sharon Bowles, who chairs the European Parliament's powerful Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, today raised concerns about the ongoing bonus culture after RBS announced it would hand out £1.3 billion in bonus shares to its investment bankers.
RBS, which was bailed out by the taxpayer to the tune of £54 billion, announced that its investment banking arm would receive bonuses after posting profits of £8.3 billion. This is despite losses of £3.6 billion on the retail banking side, which is state-controlled. Only Stephen Hester, the Chief Executive, decided to forgo a bonus of £1.6million.
While Sharon welcomes the move to remuneration in shares she is concerned that they still encourage risky behaviour in the banking sector.
"It is unacceptable that banks bailed out by the taxpayer continue to pay out bonuses when they are still reporting losses. We need to rethink remuneration policy as a whole, reduce the incentive to take excessive risk and stop rewarding making easy money.
"Moves by RBS and others to give bonuses in shares not cash is a positive indication that they have paid attention to some political demands. Even so, bonus shares can still induce risky behaviour aimed at profit at any cost.
"One way of addressing this is for bonuses to include ´subordinated debt instruments´ so bonuses would immediately be hit by downturns. While RBS did this for 2008, they have taken a disappointing step backward this year by returning to ordinary equity shares.
"Remuneration should ideally be far more in line with the cost of capital."