SENIOR banking executives face having their pay packages published after chancellor George Osborne unveiled a new transparency regime for the 15 largest banks operating in the UK.
The Treasury says the new rules, which demand the publication of rewards given to the eight most senior non-board executives, will help investors police a bank’s “risk profile”.
While the 120 executives affected will not be named officially, a similar voluntary initiative this year saw the heads of some UK banks’ investment banking divisions quickly named in the press because their pay was so much larger than the others disclosed, making their identities obvious.
The Treasury said the measures, which will be consulted upon in the coming months, aim “to protect privacy to the extent that is possible”.
The regime laid out yesterday will apply to executives in British banks or British subsidiaries of foreign banks with over £50bn in UK assets. However, it will not apply to highly paid regular staff such as traders, which means it will likely not capture banks’ most well-paid workers.
The disclosure will detail the composition and amount of executive pay.
But there is likely to be little variation in the makeup of their packages due to existing EU pay regulations that limit the percentage that can be paid out in cash and over what period it can be awarded.
It means that banks in the UK will soon face three different levels of disclosure for remuneration: one for members of the board, which names individuals; one for senior executives; and another for “code staff” – employees chosen by the regulator.
The move comes in response to populist anger over bankers’ pay and follows a call from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) for banks to align pay more closely with results.
Recruiters were dubious about the measures yesterday. “Individuals, and indeed whole companies, can and do migrate to more receptive countries already,” said Nick Stevens of Eximius. “Further legislation against bankers’ pay is highly questionable.”
Regulators are also increasingly worried about banks having enough cash on hand to deal with a credit crunch. The rules already restrict pay-outs of bonuses and dividends for those that fall below minimum requirements, but the Bank of England announced the launch of a new liquidity facility yesterday to keep credit flowing.
The Extended Collateral Term Repo (ECTR) will give banks 30-day loans in sterling at a minimum cost of 125 basis points. The facility for use by banks that cannot borrow as much as they need privately, is unlikely to be accessed imminently, but illustrates the depth of regulator concern.