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RBS is losing top talent because of inconsistencies in the reform of reward across the world


RBS's group director, human resources, Neil Roden (pictured), yesterday revealed the taxpayer-owned bank had already lost senior talent from the business thanks to the inconsistent approach to pay reform across the world.

Last week an RBS executive joined BNP Paribas in Australia while a few weeks ago a senior trader in Paris jumped ship to Citigroup, gaining a 60% salary increase and guaranteed large cash bonus in the process.

The UK has taken a lead in curbing bank remuneration, in particular bonuses, and is to introduce the toughest pay regulations in the world. Sir David Walker's final review into corporate governance, published yesterday and endorsed by the Government, says that senior banking executives should have between 40%-60% of their bonus payments deferred over three years with at least half paid in shares while the Financial Services Authority will have the power to curb pay deals that it finds excessive.

"There are fundamental changes to remuneration in RBS and in the UK financial services sector generally," said Roden. "But the jury is out whether there will be a fundamental change across industry worldwide. The loser in all this will be the UK economy."

Roden's revelation will add to fears among business groups that draconian regulations will put UK institutions at a competitive disadvantage. Financial services companies and business representatives have warned of a talent exodus if other countries fail to implement changes as speedily as the UK.

RBS has overhauled its pay structure and is already linking reward to outcomes over a longer period of time. Trevor Blackman, director, remuneration and benefits, said the company had better aligned compensation to the business and last year the bonuses of 55,000 people across the company were deferred for three years.

"It is not about a quick buck but about sustainability and the long-term health of customers and the organisation," he said.

However, Blackman conceded changes to investment banking compensation were prompted by regulation and public outrage over large bonuses.

"We implemented variable pay in retail banking 10 years ago but it has been more difficult to be significantly out of step with the winds of the market in investment banking. Compensation here has been largely driven by large US investment banks."

RBS has already taken steps to improve its performance in another area identified by Walker - diversity. It has stated that there now has to be a woman on the shortlist for any vacant top 300 executive position. "If there is not an internal candidate we will look externally," Roden said.

Additionally there now has to be at least one woman in the interview selection process.