Simon English: Can Barclays' new boss Sir David Walker really change the world?


Outlook A warm welcome to Sir David Walker, the incoming chairman of Barclays.

He's a clean sweep. A fresh perspective. And, taking him at his word, he seems to have encouraging things to say. He agrees that it is high time to reform banker pay. If he means it and sticks to it, he could change the world. Thus far banks, including Barclays, have clung to the idea that banker pay is a mere function of competitive forces beyond the control of any mortal. Like rewards to footballers, it has to keep rising. There's only one Bob Diamond in the same way that there is only one Wayne Rooney (those who think that's plenty in each case just don't get it).

So if Barclays was truly willing to take the initiative and force pay down, surely others, this being such a competitive market and all, would be able, indeed be obliged, to follow suit.

Such a move might prove helpful to Royal Bank of Scotland, the giant bank the rest of us are forced to own. Its chief executive Stephen Hester protested about government clampdowns on what he paid his top men, but seems to have discovered that even when these folk leave, other perfectly capable people will put a shift in for a bit less than the once Masters of the Universe insisted they required.