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When are bonuses ok?

By Greig Cameron on Mar 31, 11 02:32 PM in Banking

It has been interesting watching the reaction over the past few weeks to some fairly hefty payouts across the corporate sector.

Bankers like Bob Diamond, Stephen Hester and Eric Daniels all walked away with millions of pounds worth of benefits and shares.

Alongside them hundreds of other bankers were paid more than £1 million each to a collective outcry of horror.

Compare and contrast this to the joyous outpourings shown in newspapers and broadcast media when John Lewis announced all of its staff - including the executive team - were getting the equivalent of 18 per cent of their salary.

Now it's not rocket science to figure out why bankers = bad and greedy bankers = even worse.

Some of my contacts who work in financial services have often commented on the bonus culture which is prevalent in that sector with many workers expecting an extra payment as part of their own annual budget planning.

Few people would begrudge a contact centre operator on a low salary some extra money.

What riles us is seeing executives on six and seven figure basic wages taking home rewards worth several times their salary.

Perhaps that's why the John Lewis model struck such a chord.

The idea of a proportional bonus across the business seems in some ways fairer.

While reform of the bonus culture in banking has begun there is still an awful lot more to do.

It will certainly be a long time before banking bonuses are greeted in the same way as John Lewis.

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