Lloyds admits nothing's safe in Scotland – jobs or sterling

edinburgh

Customers with accounts in Scottish banks are running the risk that their money may no longer be in pounds after independence, a senior UK banker admitted yesterday.

George Culmer, the chief financial officer of Lloyds Banking Group, said he could not give any guarantees about what would happen to money held in Scottish institutions after the independence vote in September.

The referendum dominated Lloyds' annual general meeting in Edinburgh. One trade union shareholder demanded to know whether existing operations and jobs in Scotland would be safe. Others wanted to know what would happen to the Lloyds share price – given that the group includes Bank of Scotland and Scottish Widows.

Overarching everything, however, was the prospect of Scotland using a different currency. One shareholder asked: "Can I have your assurance that, if there is a dissolution of the currency union, it will be possible to hold a sterling account in Scotland?"

Mr Culmer admitted he could not give any such guarantee: "I can't give you any assurances with regards as to what the future will hold. It's subject to the vote and subject to how the practical implications and ramifications of that are worked out."

Lord Blackwell, who replaced Sir Win Bischoff as Lloyds' chairman this year, admitted that the prospect of Scottish independence was causing huge uncertainty.

He said that officials were looking into the implications of a "yes" vote but that the bank could not put any money aside to prepare for the costs of independence, because no one knew what these would be. He also conceded he could not guarantee the continuation of the thousands of jobs in Scotland nor the bank's operations north of the border.

Demonstrators outside the meeting protested against Lloyds' decision to freeze pensionable pay for all staff – at the same time as the chief executive, Antonio Horta-Osorio, received a £7.8m pay package.

Alexander Hopkinson-Woolley, a shareholder from the Isle of Wight, said: "This is a massive mistake. Talent in banking is proved by profit. If there is precious little profit, there is precious little talent. This is the emperor's new clothes, justified by financial experts."

Lord Blackwell, however, said the executive bonuses would largely be paid in shares, and although Lloyds was looking for greater flexibility in the size of bonuses paid, this was to ensure executives remained accountable for the group's performance. The executive pay plan and decision to pay staff bonuses worth up to two times their fixed pay was backed by 98 per cent of shareholders at the meeting.

Mr Horta-Osorio also defended the cap on pensionable pay, saying the decision had "not been made lightly". Although he conceded that staff morale at Lloyds had been low in the recent past, he insisted the general mood was now good. He said: "The morale at the bank did dip in the first year of the strategic review but has risen by a third in the last year."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
(L-R) Amanda Peet as Tina Morris, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson, Abby Ryder Fortson as Sophie Pierson, Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson and Steve Zissis as Alex Pappas in Togetherness
TV First US networks like HBO shook up drama - now it's comedy's turn
News
i100
Travel
Pool with a view: the mMarina Bay Sands in Singapore
travel From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect