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It’s unfair for media to only target Sir Fred

In a month that has seen a lot of media comment about Sir Fred Goodwin’s pension I am almost beginning to feel sorry for him.

Don’t get me wrong, his near-£700,000 per year pension is obscene by normal standards. It represents a higher income per month in retirement than most people can hope to earn per year while still working.

That says something about the values of the society in which we live and the way the rich always inevitably remain so.

But while that sticks in my throat I would argue that this is just the way of the world – it may be morally wrong for this situation to arise but we live in a capitalist society.

Putting aside the fact that this pension is being paid to a man who has arguably failed to do his job properly, it seems that he is contractually entitled to be paid this money.

If we start going down the road of having a day of reckoning about whether a career was a success or not and this decides who receives a pension and who does not, many high earners will be a great deal poorer in their retirement in future – and most of them will be politicians.

If a mistake has been made in agreeing a discretionary part of his pension, perhaps Sir Fred should reconsider his decision to take it.

I know the temptation must be to dig in his heels and say it was someone else’s mistake but at least he might claw back some respect if he thought again about accepting.

Most worrying is that he was granted his knighthood for services to banking.

To me, it seems sensible that such an accolade should be granted when an individual reaches the end of an illustrious career, not while there’s still plenty of time for them to muck things up.

Taking his knighthood away would make a nonsense of letting others retain theirs – for example, Sir Jeffrey Archer. While Sir Fred seems to have been incompetent he has not, to my knowledge, committed a crime.

And why does he seem to be the only one in the stocks? There are plenty of others who should be there with him.

Sir Fred seems to be the only individual being held to account for the credit crunch – the focus of our collective venom. That doesn’t seem fair to me.

Finally, I’d like to wish departed editor Robyn Hall all the best for the future. He made Mortgage Strategy a must-read magazine for anyone in the industry.

On the other hand, he was also the one who allowed me to prattle on in these pages each week for the past three years. When the time comes, Robyn should be aware this could seriously reduce his pension payout.


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