'Emotional' Hester admits he nearly quit over bonus
City backlash grows against Government's 'populist pandering' to the banker bashers
Stephen Hester admitted yesterday that he considered quitting as chief executive of taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland when the row over his £963,000 bonus was at its most "depressing".
"I had to stare over the edge at my own motivation in the last 10 days," he said. "I'm not a robot and there have been some deeply depressing moments over the past three years. I came to the conclusion that it would be indulgent to resign and that I ought to draw on what strengths of reserves I have to make RBS a success."
He denied that he had been under any pressure or been contacted by the Chancellor, George Osborne, or Treasury officials to drop his bonus. Instead he said he had talked to friends who had been "incredibly supportive".
He said: "The difficult thing on these occasions is to detach oneself. All of us get into a bunker and feel a bit sorry for ourselves. But things up close look different if you give them time and space. The decision I reached was that I had invested three years in this and it was worth continuing, overcoming the emotions I had and focusing on the recovery of RBS and the 150,000 people who work for it."
Mr Hester's stance is bound to be looked at closely by Barclays' chief executive, Bob Diamond, who is thought to be carefully considering his bonus in the light of public and political sentiment against bankers. Barclays is due to post its results tomorrow after a tough period for its Barclays Capital investment banking arm.
The City veteran Lord Levene yesterday admitted that bankers had to be sensitive to the public mood, but said the shift had already begun. "People have realised that we can not bury our heads in the sand and pretend it is all going to go away."
Barclays Capital is expected to cut bonuses for staff by as much as 30 per cent, while last night it emerged that Deutsche Bank, a big City employer, was to cap bonuses at €200,000.
Lord Levene went on to scorn politicians for attacking Mr Hester, having been the ones who appointed him and approved his bonus scheme in the first place. In this, he was echoing the widely held view of a majority of City chiefs.
One top banker said: "It is the Government's job sometimes to be robust against populism. All we've seen so far has been blatant pandering to it and that's making a lot of people in the City very angry – myself included."
Asked if he would have taken the job with the befit of hindsight Mr Hester said: "Honestly I don't know. At the time there was a degree of complete selfishness. It was a huge professional test and I'm the kind of animal that likes that."
Malaysia Airlines plane crash exposes alarming flaw in airline security: over one billion flights made last year without stolen-passport check
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
Swarm of killer bees sting woman 1,000 times
Dead woman's body lay decomposing in garage for six years before she was found
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 3 Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
- 4 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
- 5 Exclusive: UK banks in row over Yulia Tymoshenko 'millions'
iJobs Money & Business
£32000 - £36000 per annum + generous benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: * TAX * ...
£55000 - £70000 per annum + benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: In-House Corporat...
£80000 - £100000 per annum + benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: In-House Opportu...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + generous benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Mixed Ta...