Letters: Banks - bin the bonuses, bring back boringness

 

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What is the answer to the ills of the banking sector? In simple summary: banish the blokeyness, bin the bonuses, and bring back boringness. This is what banking customers want.

The blokey behaviour on the trading floor is a wonder to behold and should be consigned to history. Instead bring in mature, female and highly qualified graduates into trading positions as well as into key management roles.

These measures will change the excessive risk-taking culture in banking by replacing it with a culture that really serves customers long-term and meets their needs for a financial system in which they can have confidence.

Elizabeth J Oakley

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

When searching for the next leaders of Barclays, the board will have severe difficulties in finding any experienced people untainted by the financial culture of the past 25 years, that is, the selling of financial products to customers, rather than providing a financial service to them.

The culture in the financial industry will only be changed when nobody's income, or job, is directly dependent on selling x accounts a day, y insurance policies or a packet of minced mortgages.

Ian Hemmings

Bollington, Cheshire

Joseph Stiglitz is correct, to a point, to say criminal bankers should be sent to prison, but this would not necessarily alter their actions. If you have a few million quid in the bank, would six months or a year or two to write your memoirs be such a penalty?

The answer is to penalise shareholders, of whom I'm one, should they fail to appoint the right board of directors. If a bank, or its officers, is acting in a criminal fashion, then after an FSA judicial decision, where a fine is considered insufficient, shareholders should be warned that a percentage of shares will be nationalised without compensation. This should see changes at the top.

Howard Bryan

Beverley, East Yorkshire

I remember attending a City analysts' meeting several years ago in which the then chairman of Barclays, Sir Timothy Bevan, was asked to define his role as chairman. He replied: "Barclays has been around for 300 years. My job is to make sure it stays around for the next 300 years."

Barclays Bank was founded in East Anglia by Quakers with a strong sense of public duty. It is a great pity that their founding principles and Sir Timothy Bevan's sense of commitment have been brought up so short in recent revelations.

Andrew McMillan

London SW16

This is the moment for Bob Diamond to be truly creative with his millions.

In the early 19th century Angela Burdett-Coutts, of the banking dynasty, inherited a fortune. Along with Charles Dickens, she funded and set up a home for prostitutes in London. She was a pioneer in social housing and an early patron of the NSPCC. Other philanthropic projects included soup kitchens, schools for destitute children and help for refugees.

Now, with so much money and time on his hands, maybe Bob could follow in the path of his illustrious predecessor. There's much to be done, Bob: get to it.

Steve Poole

Bristol

The continuing saga of banking malpractice brings to mind the quote ascribed to the German dramatist Bertolt Brecht that robbing a bank is a somewhat amateurish activity compared with founding a bank. Is there indeed much difference between the mis-selling of complex "insurance" products and the murky world of loan sharks and protection racketeers?

Eva Worobiec

Wareham, Dorset

I assume that your front-page headline "Will we see City bankers behind bars?" (3 July) refers to the latest attempt by the Government to keep talented bankers, so vital to our economy, from carrying out their threats to move and work abroad?

Paul Rochman

Fetcham, Surrey

Francis Beswick (letter, 3 July) inquires whether the manipulation of the Libor amounts to the crime of fraud. He might be interested to know that the new crime of fraud by misrepresentation removes the requirement for anyone to have been actually deceived for a fraud to have been committed. One of the reasons for this reform of the law by the last Labour government was to close a loophole and make it easier to prosecute people for defrauding banks (it not being thought possible to "deceive" a cash machine).

Sean Brennan

Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

The pillory will not deter bankers (letter, 3 July). The guillotine might, but let's be British about this.

Let's try them in Westminster Hall, and, when found guilty, ship them down the river to the Tower of London, through Traders' Gate – previously Traitors' Gate. Then behead them in batches on Tower Hill after lunch on Fridays.

That might focus their minds a bit, and, at the same time, be a heritage showcase for tourists in the dead months after the Olympics.

Richard Sarson

London SW20

Let's settle Europe question now

The continued shambles over whether or not we should have a referendum on EU membership and if so "when and what question" is not only a sign of political cowardice and weakness on the part of the main political parties but is also damaging to this country. Let's settle this once and for all, and that means allowing us to vote "in or out". If it's "in" then we can get on and make Europe work for the benefit of us all. If it's "out" then likewise we know where we are and can get on with it.

The problem is that politicians don't trust the electorate with this issue. The politicians want to stay in (but make anti-Europe noises now and then so as to satisfy those voters who want out) but probably believe that the majority in a vote would elect to come out.

Trust the voters and decide the issue now. Then we can face the future.

While I personally would vote to come out, I suspect the vast majority would vote to stay in, and if that is the case, seeing we are a democracy, then I would accept the outcome. Can one say the same of our lords and masters?

Stephen Lawson

Exeter

Executive pay is just a sideshow

Simon English (21 June) quotes my views on executive pay only selectively.

In my statement, I argue that rewards should be linked to performance: there should be no pay increase or bonus at the top of any shareholder-owned business in the wake of poor performance. I also note that there have been failures of corporate governance in recent years, with shareholders sometimes unable to hold boards and executives properly to account. Hence our acceptance of binding shareholder votes every three years, as proposed by the Government.

Yet I stand by my belief that government intervention should end here. There are more important things for ministers to focus on at a time of economic uncertainty, with action to support growth and jobs at the top of the list. Executive pay is a sideshow. Access to finance, infrastructure and skills for the future are the real issues.

John Longworth

Director General, British of Commerce, London SW1

Communism is alive and well

I am pleased to inform Mary Dejevsky ("Even cold warriors miss the communists", 4 July) that rumours of the Communist Party's death are greatly exaggerated. Despite the denial of any coverage in the national media (unlike, say, the recent six-year obsession with the BNP), the Communist Party of Britain has a growing membership and is active in a wide range of trade union, anti-cuts, anti-racist, peace and international solidarity organisations.

We are recognised by the Electoral Commission as the authentic communist party in Britain and have relations with more than 80 communist and workers' parties around the world.

Our annual 21st Century Marxism festival will take place in central London on 21-22 July, We are preparing for our 52nd party congress in November and I will be attending the South African Communist Party congress next week.

Robert Griffiths

General secretary, Communist Party of Britain, Croydon, Surrey

Bomber Command deserved medals

Chris Hunt (Letter, 4 July) misses the point. Whatever the rights and wrongs of German and Allied wartime bombing strategies, the complaint has always been that aircrews in general were never recognised for their gallantry.

Asking a friend of mine yesterday – an ex-Warrant Officer Lancaster mid-upper gunner – what he thought of the memorial, he replied that it was all right, he supposed, but he would have preferred a medal.

Peter Whybrow

Hitchin, Hertfordshire

The mysteries of masochism

After the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (2 July) and many other women are angry, miserable or embarrassed that so many women have fantasies and play sexual games in which they are dominated and abused. They should take at least some comfort from the fact that vast numbers of men both gay and straight also enjoy masochistic fantasies and games.

It would be fascinating to hear from someone who knows the reason for all this self-abasement?

Julie Harrison

Hertford

Cable undervalued by ageist society

In response to Matthew Norman's wondering why George Osborne is Vince Cable's boss (4 July), I would say that it's an aspect of our infantilised society, which fails to recognise the value of age, experience and wisdom.

Susan Alexander

Frampton Cotterell, Gloucestershire

Italians do it at their own risk

I too remember the cautionary words on the windows of continental trains (letter, 4 July), but also remarked that where the English, French and German phrases all forbade leaning out of the window, the Italian merely advised that it was dangerous to do so ("E pericoloso sporgersi"), leaving the traveller to weigh the risk.

Richard Buxton

Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Summer shivers

Here in the West country we are wondering when the Government will implement the summer fuel allowance for pensioners.

Jo Frith

Sidmouth, Devon

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