Bottom Line: Pay must match performance if firms want to attract the best

 
Elizabeth Fournier

WITH so much focus on the latest bonus controls that EU politicians want to slap on Europe’s banks, it’s sometimes easy to forget just how severely economic uncertainty has already slashed pay.

It’s also often forgotten that banks aren’t just populated by the deal-makers that attract the public’s attention – behind every rainmaker there’s a growing army of compliance staff, lawyers and IT whizzes, most of whose salaries are also suffering.

There’s no doubt that banks’ in-house lawyers have stepped out of the shadows over the past five years. Back in 2008 it was all-too familiar to hear bankers’ counsel bemoaning their lack of status in the trading room, shouting to be heard on the incoming slew of new rules and being asked to sign off deals almost as an afterthought. Now the compliance gurus are front and centre of every decision that banks make – but unless their salaries match the more high-profile role then there’s little chance of attracting the best people into the fold. It’s no wonder so many lawyers are on the lookout for a new job – but can anyone offer them the salary bump they’re after?

With the City’s new roster of regulatory bodies hardly offering the big bucks (even the FSA’s top enforcer Margaret Cole made just £263,686 in 2010-11, much less than an equity partner at a City law firm would take home) hungry lawyers will instead have their fingers crossed that the recent uptick in deal activity will drive hiring – and salaries – in the right direction. Industry insiders say private equity departments have already been ramping up hiring in anticipation of a surge in deals. Here’s hoping it materialis- es, and that next year’s pay packages are enough to keep the City’s bright- est minds exactly where they belong.

KLOPPERS WILL BE MISSED AT BHP

SO BHP Billiton’s Marius Kloppers is the latest mining domino to topple, in the wake of Tom Albanese and Cynthia Carroll. Pressure on mining bosses may be rife as low commodity prices drag on shares, and China could soon slow again, but Kloppers was a straight-talking CEO who saw the firm through the financial crisis with aplomb after winning the top job in 2007. His successor Andrew Mackenzie has some rather big shoes to fill.