Top bankers fight back in bonus row

TOP executives?at the world&rsquo;s biggest banks teamed up to defend bonuses yesterday, in the first clear sign of an industry fightback against threats from policymakers to curb banker pay.<br /><br />Top bankers from Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank said bonuses did not cause the financial crisis, as they concluded a two-day summit in Germany.<br /><br />And they said that curbing the pay packages they can offer to attract talent would be damaging and a distraction from more important issues.<br /><br />Vice chairman at Swiss banking powerhouse Credit Suisse, Urs Rohner, told the Banks in Transition conference: &ldquo;Bonus payments alone have not caused the financial crisis.&rdquo;<br /><br />Deutsche Bank chief executive Josef Ackermann said banks could not let star performers slip through their fingers.<br /><br />&ldquo;The war for talent is in full swing,&rdquo; he said. He accused politicians of focusing too much on bonuses rather than more important issues. Ackermann said there was no clear link or pattern between a good or bad bank based on the size of bonuses they awarded.<br /><br />Morgan Stanley co-president Walid Chammah said the bank was &ldquo;against absolute caps on compensation levels&rdquo;, as have been proposed by several policymakers including French and German finance ministers. <br /><br />But Stephen Green, chairman of UK giant HSBC, admitted &ldquo;wrong targets were set for incentives... without regard for sustainability&rdquo;.<br /><br />&nbsp;Green said the lesson from Lehman&rsquo;s demise was instead that corporate structures need to be simpler so regulators can understand better which parts they need to monitor.