Blueprint for future of banks being unveiled

Banks will face new scrutiny over the million-pound big-hitters on the payroll under an overhaul of pay and governance unveiled today.

Sir David Walker said banks and other financial institutions should publish the number of staff paid more than £1 million - but individuals will be able to keep their anonymity.

Chancellor Alistair Darling welcomed the final report of the Walker review of banking governance and pay and promised that the Government will move swiftly to implement Sir David's recommendations.

"Sir David's proposals are the blueprint for how banks must be run in the future," said the Chancellor.

But Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable blasted the plans, saying they made "a few small steps towards transparency but nothing like enough".

In his report, Sir David called on banks to disclose details on the total pay - including salary, pension and both received and deferred bonuses - of employees outside the boardroom for the first time.

Potentially hundreds of top earners will be bracketed in bands of £1 million to £2.5 million, £2.5 million to £5 million and in bands of £5 million thereafter.

The Treasury said that draft regulations will be published in the New Year and brought into effect soon afterwards, to force disclosure for the 2010 performance year.

Sir David stressed that while remuneration was one factor in managing risk, boardroom clout, strong leadership and greater shareholder involvement were key to improving corporate governance.

The report was commissioned by Mr Darling in February this year amid concerns that unrestrained and short-term pay awards were directly linked to the excessive risk-taking at banks in the lead up to the financial crisis.

Two of his recommendations - those relating to the disclosure of high-end payments - have been included in the Financial Services Bill (FSB).

Sir David reaffirmed his position on pay and bonuses, stating that at least half of bonuses should be paid in longer-term incentives split into two payments received after three and five years.

Cash bonuses should also be deferred, paid over a three-year period with no more than one third in the first year.

Bonuses would also be subject to a claw-back provision, where funds can be returned to the firm "in circumstances of misstatement and misconduct".

Sir David also said that rewards should be calculated on "risk-adjusted measures such as economic profit rather than revenue".

He said the pay and bonus recommendations by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) were "not as tough" as his proposals, and the regulator has said it will consider including them in its Remuneration Code review next year.

Banks will not have to comply with the disclosure rules until they publish their 2010 figures, which will be released the following year.

Sir David has proposed a meatier role for the chairman, who would face annual re-election and would prioritise his or her commitment to the bank "leaving little time for other business activity".

But Mr Cable called for greater transparency.

"It (the report) only deals with remuneration over a million pounds when it should relate to all pay above the level of the Prime Minister," he said.

He said bankers, like MPs and senior BBC executives, enjoyed a taxpayer guarantee, adding: "There is no justification for withholding information on individual high-end employees from the public or shareholders."

Mr Darling said: "His (Sir David's) interim report (in July) recommended changes to control bonuses that have already become part of a global standard agreed by the G20. The Government strongly supports his recommendations and will take steps to implement them as soon as possible."

City minister Lord Myners will shortly meet with major institutional investors to discuss steps they can take to implement Walker's recommendations, as owners of UK banks.

Sir David criticised the City Minister over calls for individuals to be named - saying there was "not a shred of evidence" it would be effective in improving the running of banks.

"The idea being canvassed by Lord Myners that it is important to identify individuals who are high paid is not supported by a shred of evidence of the kind I am interested in," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"The evidence that I am interested in is to deal with one question: how will we improve the quality of governance of banks?"

Of 180 responses to his consultation, "not one of them has produced any evidence that identifying and naming people will help", he added.

"There is no evidence in all the research that's been done around the world. Of course I have looked for this," he insisted.

There was a "profound" basis for public anger over what had happened in the banking sector, he conceded, but he said it needed to be put back on "a sensible business track".

"I'm not there to deal with public anger - that's for politicians to deal with," he said.

"I'm there to improve the quality of governance of banks. I am absolutely confident that what I have proposed, if it is observed and implemented, will achieve that."

Sir David said he believes there are "well over 1,000" £1 million-plus earners in City financial institutions "and maybe many more".