Simon English: A few rebellions but the City gravy train is likely to chug along as normal

Outlook The phrase shareholder spring is already a cliche that should probably be banned by all self-respecting journals. We won't know for sure whether it is a meaningful revolution, a genuine shift in the power relationship between owners and managers, until Vince Cable's law making protest votes on pay binding becomes law (if it ever does).

I'm going to guess this is just a blip. In retrospect it will turn out to have been a brief period when some companies' performance was so awful than even City fund managers felt obliged to at least make a show of being annoyed at executive pay.

The shareholder spring will only turn into an investors' autumn if chief executive pay becomes genuinely linked to performance, or else just shoved notably downwards.

Most likely what will occur is that there will continue to be a serious-looking "rebellion" every once in a while that will allow small shareholders to feel that their views are taken seriously. To give the impression that this is a fair fight. Meanwhile the City gravy train will peep-peep along as normal.

One national newspaper has been writing – by my reckoning – the following story at least once a week for the last 10 years: Major clampdown on executive pay imminent. Given that these stories appeared during a period when executive pay boomed and kept booming, you could see the relentless pursuit of them as doggedly heroic, if, sadly, completely wrong.

Isolated cases aside, the way to bet is that executive pay will keep rising in the next few years, especially for bankers. The pay deals coming down the line for top banking bosses are truly extraordinary.

If you think you're mad now at what financiers make – wait. That's because five years ago, before the crash, bankers' bonuses and pay were mostly in cash. Almost as if they thought bank shares were overvalued. Now there's been a shift to insist that bankers take payment in shares which are presently undervalued. When Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group properly recover and the shares return to something like normal, the payouts are going to be phenomenal.

Chief executives not in banking will point to those rewards and say, hey, that's the new going rate for folk such as me... Remuneration committees will buckle. Steam will emerge from the ears of Vince Cable and others who expect life to be equitable. Everyone else will shrug: same as it ever was. Just a bit worse.

s.english@independent.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Finance Manager

Up to £70,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Sheridan Maine: Regulatory Reporting Accountant

Up to £65,000 per annum + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accoun...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas