SENIOR bankers at HSBC are to have their salaries doubled, as the bank attempts to head off a bonus row amid political pressure.
The 100 per cent rise for hundreds of top bankers across HSBC’s global banking and markets (GBM) operations, including in the financial centres of London, Hong Kong and New York, will take immediate effect.
The move comes as Treasury minister Mark Hoban urged banks to “think very carefully” about the upcoming round of bonuses, as the government seeks to quash extravagant City rewards during a period of public austerity.
HSBC could use the move to avoid political tension and negative publicity over large bonuses, whilst simultaneously using the salary hike to placate bankers.
The measures ensure the bank remains a competitive employer for top City workers, as many of its rivals, including RBS, have upped salaries over the past two years.
The change also lifts pressure from the bank to provide top bankers with high bonuses. Senior staff have seen their personal cashflow squeezed, as annual bonuses have been deferred for several years, or have been paid in share options.
The rebalancing of remuneration away from variable pay toward fixed salaries will also be welcomed by regulators, who have been urging banks to take a more sustainable approach to pay.
HSBC had just two weeks ago complained about new bonus rules, which it said could force it to consider moving its London headquarters overseas.
HSBC last night declined to comment.