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Top bankers’ pay details unlikely to feature in 2011 annual reports

Treasury is in the midst of a consultation on whether banks should publish pay details of bankers who do not sit on the board

Multimillion-pound pay deals for top bankers may not need to be disclosed in the annual reports of high street banks this year despite pledges by the government to force such information to be published.

The Treasury is in the midst of a consultation on whether up to 15 banks – not just the high street banks – should publish pay details of the top eight bankers who do not sit on the board. This work builds upon the Project Merlin disclosures of last year – the ones that forced Barclays to concede that its top five bankers had been handed £110m in 2010, when three year performance related deals paid out.

As it stands, there is not yet an agreement about the information that should be published for 2011 by the high street banks or by the wider pool of investment houses, such as Goldman Sachs, that the government wants to include.

Pay information is usually published in annual reports. Last year, the banks released pay details of top five bankers outside the boardroom in this format.

Sources reckon it is unlikely that any new framework for disclosure will be in place in time for this year’s round of annual reports by the UK’s banks. Government sources concede, privately, that the legislation needed to require such information about pay is unlikely to get through parliament before July 2012. HSBC’s annual report is scheduled for publication on 27 February.

This would suggest that the high street banks – HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland – can publish their annual reports this year with the scant traditional information about boardroom pay as well as the new regulatory requirement to publish aggregate information about how much “code staff” – those bankers taking and managing risk – are paid.

This is not to say that more disclosure will not come by the end of the year. But it is possible, that unless the government reaches a friendly agreement with high street banks, annual reports for 2011 could contain less information about pay than in 2012.

A Treasury spokesperson said: “Our proposals will require the largest UK banks and UK banking operations of large foreign banks, to publish remuneration reports every year, including for the 2011 – 12 financial year. The government is committed to making top-level pay more transparent – we want the most transparency for those with the greatest responsibility.” © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds