EU cap on bankers' bonuses is unhelpful distraction, says Sir Mervyn King

 

The controversial European Union cap for bankers' bonuses is an unhelpful "distraction", according to the UK's top financial sector regulators.

Giving evidence to the Banking Standards Commission yesterday, Sir Mervyn King said that the move by Brussels "will neither be as beneficial as proponents hope, nor will it be as damaging as opponents fear".

Sir Mervyn added that capping bonuses was "a bit of a distraction" in that it only addressed the symptoms of excessive pay for bankers rather than the underlying cause, which he identified as the implicit subsidy enjoyed by banks that are too big to fail.

Andrew Bailey, the incoming head of the Prudential Regulatory Authority, also giving evidence, said banks were likely to respond to the cap by raising fixed salaries and that this could interfere with regulators' efforts to ensure that bonuses can be clawed back.

"It looks hard, but it runs the risk that it will push up fixed remuneration," he said. "Fixed remuneration is essentially cash out the door."

On the subject of too big to fail, Sir Mervyn said the Vickers Commission should be reconstituted in five years' time to report on whether its ring-fencing reforms have succeeding in making the banking system safer and whether the new regulatory regime was working effectively.

He said: "My own personal view is that it would be sensible to have a proper review after four or five years, not just of the ring-fence, but of a whole range of issues that I would put under the umbrella heading: Has the United Kingdom solved the too-big-to-fail problem?"

The Governor reiterated his call for the Chancellor to implement the original 4 per cent leverage ratio recommended by Vickers, rather than the more lenient 3 per cent ratio the Chancellor, George Osborne, put into the Financial Services Bill after lobbying by banks.

Sir Mervyn noted that bank executives' remuneration rewards tended to be tied to higher returns on equity, which are easier to achieve with higher leverage. "I suspect that is the driving force on the lobbying on leverage," he said.

Sir Mervyn said lobbying by banks was still shaping ministers' decisions on legislation. Speaking of the Labour years, he said: "I was surprised at the degree of access of bank executives to people at the very top – certainly much better than regulators". He added: "The climate has changed since then – but the access hasn't."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before