i Editor's Letter: What irritates me about bankers

  • @stefanohat


Have I mentioned one of the things that irritates me (and you) most about bankers? Their response to the dread “what do you do?” question is always a dismissive “I work in the City”.

That’s enough, see. That’s all us “plebs” who do not work in the City need know. Not what they actually do, because so few of them can ever articulate that without resorting to an embarrassed self-deprecation that my friends who work in epidemiology, film, law, even advertising and journalism, don’t feel the need for.

We know, they know, they are horribly overpaid for whatever it is they do; and that it is hugely over-rated. Money, as it is wont to do, blinded us to the nonsense of the destructively over-complicated financial tools they played with; mechanisms for making and losing vast sums that they themselves did not fully understand: gambling masquerading as banking.

It was worth it for them, because of that end-of-year bonus. Its justification to the outside world was always that banks needed to pay such astonishing sums to hire and retain the “very best talent”.

Incredibly, this line is still trotted out, regardless that the “very best talent” got us all into this fine mess, because their corporate and personal greed was allowed to go largely unchecked. In what other walk of life could anyone argue that a bonus cap equivalent to one year’s salary (in addition to that salary) was not enough?

Although vested interests, and the lame “need to compete internationally” line may scupper the plan, it is difficult to see how anything other than that same greed can be used to justify rejecting this unusually sensible EU idea.