Since the chief of RBS, Stephen Hester, has said no to his £900,000 bonus I think it's time to make the case that not all bankers bonuses are bad.
Hester is a unique case, he is head of a bank that is largely owned by the UK taxpayer. However, he's done well in his role to stabilise the bank and make it more secure and less prone to excessive/risky lending and casino-style investment tactics.
However, we've since learned that one of the traders at RBS is in line to receive a bonus of around £4m. And many folks will wonder what he (or she) did to warrant that kind of pay packet.
The fact of the matter is that most bank traders are paid on performance, they get a basic salary and then a bonus depending on how much profit they've made for the bank. In all honesty, most traders in banks earn less than £100,000 a year (which for some readers will still seem like too much).
However, if the high flying traders bring in millions of pounds worth of income to the bank, the profits of which are then passed to shareholders, is it so bad if they get a hefty bonus?
I'm not sure it is, and here's why:
You see, most traders are salespeople. They go out on behalf of the bank and peddle financial products to other financial and investment institutions.
In many ways they're very similar to almost any salesperson. If they don't sell they don't earn.
I used to work for a well known home improvements company. I was given a small basic salary and then very generous commissions on what I sold. The scope for earning a considerable income was definitely there. But if I didn't sell I didn't earn.
As it turns out I didn't sell and didn't earn and didn't last long in the job (I since realise that I was a little too honest to close the deal on the day).
So, if a bank trader brings fifteen million pounds of profit into the bank, is it unreasonable to give him/her a bonus of over a million? I don't think so, and I'm not sure the shareholders would be all that bothered either.
If owned a business and my top salesman brought in millions of pounds worth of sales and profits I'd not be shy in giving her a hefty bonus.
So, if someone is bringing in the profits for a business then bonuses aren't necessarily a bad thing.
Disagree? Feel free to tell me why by making a comment below:
Well this last week has certainly been one for the racists. With Diane Abbott MP making racist comments on Twitter and (yet another) sensitive millionaire footballer alleging racist taunts and abuse.
In all honesty this comes as little surprise to many people since racism is still endemic in our society and, in my opinion, it'll never go away as long as we have different skin colours and speak different languages. Ideally racism would be a non-concept. But, like it or not, racism is here to stay. I don't like it or want it, but that's the way it is here in the real world. It's naive to think it'll ever be completely eradicated.
But the most galling thing about racism is not that it happens but the reaction to it in the media and some sections of society.
But the Diane Abbott situation is worthy of note. Ms Abbott, who has a degree in history from Cambridge, wrote a sweeping generalisation that white people like to divide and rule. And I take offence at that because I don't divide or rule.
On the day that the 'Diane Abbott is a racist' Twitter scandal broke there was a black guy from a black representative group being interviewed on Sky News (can't remember who he was now). And he quite specifically said that black people can't be racist. I couldn't believe what I was hearing and seeing. It made me wonder what planet he was living on because it certainly didn't seem like this one.
Thankfully , other black commentators were a little more level-headed in saying that what Diane Abbott wrote was stupid and that she should have known better considering her position and her obvious intelligence.
Even more maddening is the fact that she only apologised for offence caused, not for being a racist or making making racist comments. And I wonder whether she would have apologised had she not been told to.
She did her best to make out that she was referring to British rule during the Empire and that the comment had been taken out of context. But she hadn't actually put the tweet into such context during the Twitter discussion. A poor attempt at covering up her own racist attitude.
Even worse is that she kept her job. And that is simply because she is black. If a white front bench politician had made similar remarks he or she would have been fired within the hour.
Constance Briscoe, a highly respected black female barrister and judge, went further on BBC's Any Questions by saying that she is also a hypocrite in that she has one rule for Diane Abbot and something else for others.
Now I'm not condoning racism at all. Racism may still be rife but it's still wrong and shouldn't be acceptable to anyone. Least of all of from someone who sits on the Shadow Cabinet. Diane Abbott has an excellent track record of supporting and promoting race relations. And that's why it saddens me that one of the most intelligent people in the Parliamentary Labour Party has shown herself to be something of a racist herself.
Jeremy Clarkson is in the news again and, as usual, it's about something he said. This time he's upset a few union leaders by suggesting that those who went on strike should be shot in front of their families.
However, the funniest thing is that many folks, most notably the unions, have taken such offence that they've said that they're going to see whether legal action can be taken against Clarkson and/or the BBC.
But what they fail to realise is that they've been had, well and truly.
You see, Clarkson has a new book to promote. And what better way to get loads of free publicity than to say something controversial on national television?
To many people Clarkson is a bigoted, big mouthed, opinionated arse but he plays the game of show business better than many people appreciate. He is, after all, a television entertainer.
And that's what makes this latest episode even more comical: Clarkson just wants publicity for his new book and the unions have handed it to him on a plate. In fact, I personally think that those who have taken offence need to have a real hard think about whether they take things a little too seriously, because it's obvious that they don't understand Clarkson.
A few years ago, when Jeremy Clarkson had launched a new book, he suggested that lorry drivers routinely murder prostitutes, a reference to the Yorkshire Ripper who actually was a lorry driver who murdered prostitutes. But the resulting public outcry, most notably from groups purporting to represent lorry drivers, ended up with greater sales of Clarkson's book.
Clarkson ended up making a half-hearted apology on television but did he really care? Of course he did, all the way to the bank.
But there is a few points (and probably useful lessons) to this situation:
1 – Clarkson is a showman and wants free publicity for his book, which has happened even more than he could have afforded if he'd tried to buy it.
2 – Very people are genuinely offended by what he said. The phrase 'someone might be offended' rarely produces more than handful of people who actually are offended.
3 – The unions take Clarkson far too seriously and have fallen for this ruse; hook, line and sinker.
So, once again, Clarkson props up his book sales with the help of those who could probably do with a little work in the 'sense of humour' department.
Some of my friends will know that I'm a leader of an Explorer Scout group and for most of this last week (4 nights in fact) we've taken 15 scouts to Snettersham in Norfolk for our annual summer camp.
It's been a great time and we've all come back very tired (and smelly) but definitely smiling.
I've had fun, even though it's been quite tiring, but I've learned a few things that I think might help others. So here goes:
- Allowing 10-12 year olds to make their own hot chocolate drinks at 9:30pm is a bad idea. They all put plenty of sugar in their drinks and were wired until well after midnight.
- Every young person has something to offer. You just need to find it and nurture it.
Many of the young people in our group have challenging backgrounds or social situations and it's far too easy to see what's wrong. But, with a little structure and focus, almost every young person can be made to shine at something.
- You learn to appreciate hot running water when you're on a campsite without hot water or a shower cubicle.
- The best sanction for a misbehaving 12 year old football fanatic is to ban him from playing ball games.
- Keeping 10-12 year olds on-task can be quite difficult. The key is to keep them close and keep them busy.
- Try and give clear instruction as to what you want and avoid saying what you don't want.
This is all about communication and applies to people of all ages but is especially important for children and young people.
When you tell someone what it is you don't want you give them too much scope to find something else that could be even less desirable that what you're telling them not to do. With young people this is even more important.
Here's an example:
Instead of saying "please don't play football near the tents" say "please play football at the far end of the field".
With this approach you're giving clear direction about what's wanted with little room for manoeuvre.
- Be flexible.
Not everything will go plan all of the time, in life as well as camping. So, it's vital that you're open to being flexible.
As an example of camp, we were aiming to go swimming on Wednesday. But by the time we reached the pool after our day's activities we wouldn't have had as much time swimming as we'd hoped. So we put it off for a day and it worked out better because we spent loads of time in the pool.
The scouts were disappointed at the time but were less bothered when we explained that we'd get much longer in the pool tomorrow (and it was raining on Thursday so that limited our outdoor activities anyway).
- Work out quickly who can (and can't) take a joke.
- Encouragement and public recognition will always mean a lot.
Far too few young people receive much in the way of positive affirmation in my view. Many adults just tell them what they're doing wrong with little thought for what's going right and what is a good direction to go in.
Even something as simple as showing genuine appreciation for what the young person has done can have a positive impact.
- Never be afraid to say sorry if you've done something that someone else doesn't like. Even if it's not necessarily your fault. Being a peacemaker will always win more than lose friends.
- Work hard to be the kind of person that the young people might want to grow up into. In my opinion there are very few role models these days (especially male role models) so I always try to be someone who is worth looking up to.
By far this is the most difficult thing to do and maintain and I'm not saying that I'm perfect or that I have all the answers, I'm just saying that I work hard at setting a positive example.
I may add more to this as I contemplate how I've done over this last week but if you're a parent or a leader of some kind of group for young people then I hope that there's something here that will help.
So news publishing history was made on Sunday with the demise of the News of the World but so what?
I know it's sad that many journalists and support staff have lost their jobs at short notice but do we really need the News of the World? Is there now a gap in the market where the newspaper leaves off?
Well I'm confident that many of the journalists will find other work, the newspaper industry is renowned for its flexibility in the workforce. As a result of the closure it's likely that other Sunday papers will take a larger market share and this should open up opportunities.
But the point of this is that News International has been planning a Sunday Sun for a little while now. Even Rebekah Brookes indicated that NI was preparing for 7 day reporting as much a 2 months ago. So the signs have been there.
However, further to the NOTW allegations, it seems that the Sun and Sunday Times have been implicated in further scandals with Gordon Brown accusing the Sunday Times of colluding with criminals and gaining access to his son's medical records and possibly his own tax and financial details too.
So it seems that News International have even more bad publicity to deal with from 2 more of their publications. Closing NOTW hasn't had what they hoped would be something akin to closure on the phone hacking and data security scandals.
By now, even Rupert Murdoch must be wondering what to do next and it's almost certain that his proposed takeover of BSkyB is dead in the water. He owns a lot of the news media in the UK but there's still enough force amongst the rest of the field to keep scandal inflamed for some time.
There is also speculation (and a good few voices in parliament fuelling this) that the government are considering legislation to regulate the amount of news media share that any single organisation can own and influence. Not a bad thing in my view.
So, should we lament the passing of the News of the World? Definitely not!
Is anything likely to improve for News International any time soon? I certainly hope not!
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