Stephen Foley: Why it really pays to work at RBS

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The Independent Online

Outlook There was no shortage of outrage over executive bonuses at Royal Bank of Scotland when shareholders gathered for its annual meeting in Edinburgh yesterday, and the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee will pile on this morning in its latest report on our state-supported banks. It is "inappropriate" for the likes of RBS to be handing multimillion-pound incomes to its bosses until the taxpayer has been repaid the money it fronted during the credit crisis, the committee will declare.

And yet. What to make of the fact that 99.2 per cent of RBS shareholders (and yes, that is an overwhelming number, even if you exclude the British Government's voting stake) backed the bank's remuneration policy yesterday?

Actually, the RBS pay structure is about as good as it gets, in terms of aligning the fates of shareholders and executives. As UKFI, which manages our investment in RBS, pointed out, it comes mainly in the form of deferred share-based awards, as opposed to cash-up-front, which will reflect the company's performance.

As for the quantum, chief executive Stephen Hester gets less than most of his peers. Shareholders in all banks, not just state-owned ones, need to pressure executive pay lower. But, as RBS investors demonstrated, there are more important issues to think about.