James Moore: Barclays’ new signing Tushar Morzaria comes at a price

Unlike bankers, it’s really very easy to judge the impact of a player like Lionel Messi.Just watch him

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The Independent Online

Outlook An investment banker on the rise is Tushar Morzaria, who has been appointed finance director at Barclays. And, as ever, Barclays has agreed to pay a transfer fee to get him.

Actually, it’s not so much a transfer fee as we would understand it. It’s more like the sort of clause that some European football clubs put in players’ contracts, requiring a new club to buy out a player’s contract for a defined fee if they want to transfer.

Barclays will, in effect, buy out all the long-term share awards that Mr Morzaria was handed by his previous employer, JP Morgan, but which he would lose through leaving. So it is a transfer fee, really.

Bankers quite like this analogy. They often complain that people don’t moan about the superstar footballers’ pay in the same way as they moan about superstar bankers’ pay.

But there is a big difference between the two. It’s really very easy to judge the impact of a player like Lionel Messi. Just watch him. And if you have no appreciation of the game, companies such as Opta can provide detailed statistics that will demonstrate his impact and worth to his team.

It is very much harder to quantify the impact that executives have on the companies they steward. Corporate earnings are dependent on a huge number of variables, many of which are outside their leaders’ control, such as the economy.

An organisation of Barclays’ size is also, in effect, a massive bureaucracy, further limiting the impact that Mr Morzaria will be able to have.

Unlike a football club, which is dependent on the performance of 11 men or women on the pitch, with their superstars able to turn a game with a moment of brilliance, it is dependent on the steady toil of a cast of thousands.

Mr Morzaria’s most important function is really to ensure that there aren’t any screw-ups –  that and keeping the systems working, and ensuring that the people who are reporting to him are keeping their parts of the business in order.

That’s not to say that it isn’t a demanding role, requiring a clever and hard-working person to fill it. But it does make that multi-million-pound transfer fee and pay package much harder to justify.