Saturday, 28 January 2012
It could be far worse
He's come a long way since the Addams Family, but Uncle Fester is copping a lot of grief over his £1.2 million salary and £0.9 million bonus. Not much for a modern bank CEO with a balance sheet the size of a medium sized European country, but sizeable nonetheless.
The man or woman on the Clapham omnibus might question the wisdom of paying him the about as much as the average South American midfielder could earn at a Lancashire mill town football club, but the responsibility of stewarding the country's £45 billion investment in a basket case Scottish bank (not to mention the interests of the other 18% shareholders who would also like to see a dividend or two) would seem to justify more pay than the requirement to beat the defender and whip the ball across on the left foot.
The attacks on Mr Hester are scurrilous (but no worse than the pillorying of Eric Daniels), and it is to Mr Hester's credit that he doesn't flounce off to spend more time with his family. The attacks from Labour politicians are even more scurrilous in that they invited Mr Hester in to run the bank, not on the understanding that it would be operated as a branch of the Treasury but as a fully commercial bank making daily commercial decisions and responding to the needs of the market.
If they had wanted a cheaper option, they should have put a civil servant or quangocrat into the job, but as they well knew at the time, that would have cost them billions.
As the board has since discovered, finding a suitable replacement for Hester will not be easy, and the right man (or woman) will probably cost them much more. And in view of the negative publicity from the press, much, much more.