UK watchdog chief urges shareholders to curb bankers' pay

LONDON, March 14 Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:55am EDT

LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) - Shareholders in Britain's banks should resort to using "big sticks" if they are serious about tackling excessive pay at banks, a top regulator said on Friday.

Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, told London's Evening Standard that shareholders have started to grumble about bankers' pay but only quietly.

"They are not really getting in there with big sticks," Wheatley said.

"It is bizarre in a sense that banks just seem to be able to pay more and their owners, the shareholders, seem to accept that they will take a smaller take of profits each year if the banks decide to pay it to themselves," Wheatley said.

The European Union will cap bankers' bonuses handed out from 2015 to no more than fixed pay, but several UK lenders like HSBC and Barclays are planning to give extra monthly or quarterly allowances to top up fixed pay and soften the blow.

"It is not a good outcome, but it is legal within the structure that was created," the newspaper quoted Wheatley as saying.

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