At last, a banker with sense on bonuses

I'm glad it's the CEO of Barclays, my bank, who has taken this decision

Share

Every journey of a thousand miles must start with a single step. I don't know whether Anthony Jenkins, the chief executive of Barclays, had this piece of ancient Chinese philosophy in mind, but on the long road towards restoring public trust and faith that his bank, and indeed the entire banking sector, must travel, it is clear that he has taken the first baby steps.

It was announced on Monday night that Mr Jenkins has, for the second year in succession, declined to accept the annual bonus that he was due as part of his contract. He was entitled to a payout of £2.7m, a sum that equated to 250 per cent of his £1.1m salary, but he said that “it would not be right, in the circumstances” to take the money.

What circumstances, you may ask? Well, it's not exactly been a vintage year for Barclays. Mired in the continuing struggle to right the wrongs of the past, the bank has had to shell out what Mr Jenkins calls “significant” amounts of money in 2013 (and when Barclays calls outlays “significant”, we know they're talking about eye-watering sums). On top of this, the bank was forced into an emergency rights issue last year to raise £6bn in order to restore its capital position, and has had to set aside almost £5.5bn in compensation for its mis-selling misdemeanours of the recent past.

Against this background, the Barclays board still offered Mr Jenkins the opportunity to trouser more than two-and-a-half mill as a thank-you for his efforts. What were they thinking? I know it was a contractual obligation, but, sooner or later, someone in a bank's boardroom has to pull the communication cord on the gravy train. Why should it be left to an individual to show some sensitivity to the prevailing moral climate? It could, of course, be a stage-managed piece of public relations, but either way it puts pressure on the bosses of the other high street banks to respond to the simmering  anger of their customers about both the service they are providing and the rewards they are snaffling by a similarly public-spirited act.

Weirdly, I felt a minor twinge of pride when I heard about Mr Jenkins' sacrifice (don't worry, by the way: he's still in line to pocket £4m in shares as part of a long-term incentive plan). I may be a creature from a bygone age, but in my day, people had a loyalty to their bank, which often was returned.

I have been a faithful customer of Barclays ever since I received my first pay packet. I moved from job to job, from one part of Britain to another, but my bank account stayed in a small branch in South Wales. I had a succession of Mr Thomases and Mr Williamses looking after my account, and now it's a Mr Jenkins. Brand loyalty is often inexplicable, and allegiance to a bank is, frankly, crazy in the current climate. It is, indeed, a thousand mile journey for Britain's banks to win back public respect, but I take a small pleasure in the fact that it's my bank manager who took that first step.  

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: SQL DBA (SSIS, ETL) - London, £60k

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL DBA (SSIS, ETL) - Central London, £60,000...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Recruitment Genius: Service Agent / QA Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an est...

Recruitment Genius: C# / XAML Developer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity for a talented...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Benedict Cumberbatch race row: Calling black people 'coloured' removes part of their humanity

Yemisi Adegoke
 

Dippy the Diplodocus: The great exotic beast was the stuff of a childhood fantasy story

Charlie Cooper
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness