How Bankers Will Be Loved: Three Simple Things They Can Do

The past couple of weeks you may have noticed the 15 billion in profits by HSBC and the 12 billion by Barclays…I’ve lost count after 10 billion…so forgive me if I am out by a billion between friends.

Yet these massive profit making machines are not loved by the British public? £3 billion in tax Barclays paid, yet the headlines speak of how they tried to avoid a couple of hundred million. Why are we not happy that British companies are so profitable? What on earth are their PR advisors advising them? As I mentioned on Sky News, Jeff Randall Live, they only need to do three things to be loved of the nation.

First, stop hoarding all those profits, and spend on the young. It’s easy, take £1 billion of your profits from last year and spend it on youth training programmes. You don’t have to turn the young people into trainee bankers – god forbid – just train them in keyboard skills, behaviour in an office, discipline, leadership skills. And pay them! Pay them minimum wage if you want.

And to the young layabouts, sorry, little darlings on street corners with immense potential, who moan about work experience – in my grandfather’s day, flipping burgers was called opportunity. My uncle swept floors at Morrisons at 16 – before becoming the General Manager of their flagship store by 24. You pays your dues and make sure you have the right attitude.

That’s the first thing that will make society love bankers. Second, stop hoarding all that profit, and pay a decent dividend, so that pensioners who are your shareholders through their pension funds get a decent return. Presently Barclays pays £2 in dividends for every £100 of shares. It pays less than most of the other 100 largest FTSE 100 companies in the UK. It can pay more. Just imagine how much the nation would love them for looking after the old.

So that is the young and the old – what about the rest of us? Bankers pay should be linked to the amount of tax their bank pays. If paying tax is a social good – then let’s talk real incentivisation. We’ll incentivise you as a society. That’s the real problem with bankers pay and this notion of incentivisation – it has no link to what we understand as incentiviation. No wonder people ask, ‘why would you get a bonus if you made a loss?’

Barclays made £12 billion pounds in profit. I have no problem their CEO getting, say, 0.1% of that as his pay. Just as long as he knows, if his bank pays less tax, he gets less pay. Ultimately, you don’t work for the shareholders, who you don’t listen to, whilst you pay yourselves fat salaries – you work for the nation. The banks broke the nation, now they can help build it, through paying tax. All our interests are then aligned – bankers incentivised to make more profit, which is good as it means paying more corporation tax, which makes us more happy , and we then allow them to draw a bigger salary. Whereas at the moment, they are incentivised to earn more salary, which leads to less profits for the company which means less tax for the nation.

Alpesh B Patel

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