Brown: Dock bankers' pay for high-risk mistakes

British prime minister Gordon Brown said today there should be a "clawback" system for UK bankers' pay if deals went wrong, as he pledged to speed up reform of financial markets.

British prime minister Gordon Brown said today there should be a "clawback" system for UK bankers' pay if deals went wrong, as he pledged to speed up reform of financial markets.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Brown also aired the possibility of a cap for bonuses, saying they should be based on long-term performance rather than short-term speculation.

He told the FT: "I understand all the difficulties because we're dealing with very many global financial centres, but I think you've got to be absolutely clear that remuneration has got to be based on long-term success, not short-term speculative deals.

"There's got to be a clawback system in remuneration itself, so that if things are not working in year two then there is a clawback that is possible."

Mr Brown added: "I would add a further thing that there is a debate, of course, about caps on bonuses and everything else.

"But I think it's true to say that the debate will move on to whether the bonuses that are paid are, in general, too high a proportion of company revenues and profits.

"I think this is a legitimate debate for the G20 (group of leading nations) and the world community to have."

The new pay arrangements have "got to be implemented as quickly as possible", he said.

His comments come amid evidence that the bonus culture is already returning, less than a year after the near-collapse of the international financial system.

The investment banking arm of Barclays, BarCap, has reportedly tried to poach a team of five commodities traders by offering them a package worth up to £30m (€34.17m) in salary and bonuses.

Later this month G20 leaders will meet in Pittsburgh, in the US.

Speaking about the looming discussions, Mr Brown said it would be a "historic mistake to think that we could now return to business as usual".

"We need to be clear that there is still a great deal to be done about the banking and financial system if we are to assure people that trust can be fully rebuilt in the system."

He also said all the leading countries needed to agree new measures for bankers' pay.

"The fact is if one country ends up doing something that other countries are not prepared to follow because there is no debate taking place in that country, then it is very difficult to make change."

Asked if a recovery was under way in the UK, he reiterated his "cautious optimism" stance.

"That is not suggesting that we're not vigilant and it's not suggesting that there are not big challenges that we've still got to meet," he added.

Mr Brown said his moves to shore up banks like Royal Bank of Scotland and Halifax Bank of Scotland with taxpayer funds were necessary.

He said: "The fiscal intervention was necessary. It still is necessary, because there is so much uncertainty about the global economy and the path of growth generally.

"An exit from these fiscal measures would demand very, very careful timing."

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