Britain has three times as many highly paid bankers than the rest of Europe put together, according to new figures likely to reopen the dispute over City pay.
Data from the European Banking Authority, the EU regulator, suggested Britain had 2,436 bankers earning more than €1m (£860,000) – a figure thought to be reflective of London’s pull as a major financial centre. Next was Germany, which managed to maintain Europe’s biggest economy with just 170 highly paid financiers, a figure 14 times lower than that in the UK. France, meanwhile, had just 162. In eight countries in the EU, no bankers received more than €1m.
Nearly three-quarters of the 2,436 British financiers who received more than €1m were classified as working in investment banking, while 85 worked in retail banking, 182 in asset management and 360 in other business areas. The new data shows that over three times more was paid out in bonuses than in fixed salaries in the City, which would appear to breach the bonus cap that is being introduced from next year.
The cap is designed to address public anger at a bonus-driven culture many European politicians believe encouraged the risk-taking that led to the near-collapse of many of the region’s biggest banks. Pat McFadden, the Labour MP who sits on the Treasury Select Committee, said: “These figures illustrate the ongoing problem with huge salaries in banking at a time of austerity for most people. The problem with pay in banking is not just the high levels but that bonuses are paid out without risks being understood and on the basis of results that don’t look so good in the future.”
In crisis-hit Spain, the average annual pay for bankers earning over €1m was €2.4m, the highest in Europe – but this average represented just 125 individuals.