Don’t punish the front-line troops for fat cat follies

Many of us in the financial services industry watched with considerable interest the former bank bosses and our illustrious Prime Minister being quizzed by the Treasury Select Committee this month.

As someone with a professional interest in what has happened and the story behind it, I followed the train of events, the reasons why the British banking system came close to meltdown and the contrition of those at the top of the financial If I, as someone with knowledge of how the system works, found the whole soap opera baffling and frankly unbelievable, what could the ubiquitous man on the Clapham omnibus have made of it all?

This gang of four have all now resigned from their elevated positions. Their salaries, when they were employed in their posts, are the stuff of fantasy for most of us.

If the market hadn’t tanked all four would have continued in their jobs in relatively wealthy anonymity but now they are practically household names – and for the wrong reasons.

They are being held to account for errors which almost caused the collapse of our financial system, resulting in job losses, financial difficulties for many savers and the biggest contraction of the mortgage market for many years.

And what has happened to these financial giants? Well, they have lost their jobs, which must be hard to bear if you’ve been used to earning between £750,000 and £1.9m a year.

Let’s hope they had the foresight to put something aside for a rainy day because it could be a long time before they find employment.

They have said sorry in their own way. That must be so much easier to say if you have money in the bank.

Those who are left behind in the banking world, vainly mopping up the pieces, must feel so much better for that.

But we then learn that those left behind still stand to gain from humongous bonuses. Naturally there has been a large public outcry against this and rightly so.

But it would be wrong to penalise the counter and branch staff, the BDMs and those running these organisations on a day-to-day basis because of the superiors’ mistakes.

The frontline troops have been working honestly to run businesses on behalf of their masters.

They have simply been following orders and doing their best to ensure their companies stay alive. So don’t take their bonuses away, take them from the people at the top.

Some might comment that these organisations have effectively wrecked my whole livelihood over the past year, so why should I be so kindly disposed towards their staff?

I will resort to a blonde response – I am a Libran so I like fairness. Not a great explanation, but nothing in our industry makes much sense at the moment.