This week, Laura and Anthony discussed bonuses in the city, suggesting that clamping down on big payouts may be unfair and could lead to star bankers leaving the country.
After watching the BBC drama Freefall, Mark suggested the programme was scapegoating the mortgage salesmen, when it should have ticked off the consumer for not reading his terms and conditions.
On bankers and bonuses
'Laura' - you miss the point about bonuses. I don't think people mind the idea of people earning bonuses or high salaries if the business model allows for it - who would say no? However when the bonus is a vast multiplier of the base salary then it causes disproportionate behaviour to achieve it. Paying someone £100,000 a year with a £1m bonus is just wrong. If they generate wealth anyway (like a top Premiership footballer) pay them accordingly and make the bonus the carrot for going the extra distance - not just for doing their job.
Stewart Watson, Didcot
Our 'star bankers' have managed to plunge the economy into a deep recession and saddle us with government debts
"This will cause star bankers to leave - especially when coupled with the new 50% tax rate. Ultimately this will be bad for the economy." Our "star bankers" have managed to plunge the economy into a deep recession and saddle us with government debts that will take at least a generation to repay. Given the impact their money-motivated actions have on the rest of us I would prefer to attract those not just in it for short-term gain. I think it's clear to everyone that offering a high salary or bonus doesn't necessarily attract the best people, but it certainly attracts the greediest.
Mike Cobb, Bovey Tracey, UK
The role of government and society surely must be to encourage activities which enhance society as a whole and discourage ones that do not. It would be absurd to focus policy on that which benefits the few and harms the many. I can see no convincing evidence that these financial geniuses have contributed any real wealth to society over the last 30 years and neither does Paul Krugman (Nobel Prize for Economics)- please read the Economist for more detail. I can see, however, overwhelming evidence for a negative impact on society which most people are currently experiencing. On a purely logical level therefore, why should society support these few individuals to the detriment of the many?
I am a retired investment analyst. I was in the rankings and earned very good money for the time. It was then clear and even more now that the big money is in corporate deals. Three per cent of a billion is a large sum to share out. Is there effectively a cartel which keeps the percentage high or are there even in global banking just too few centres of competence to handle large deals? The analogy with footballers' pay doesn't really fit. How many Ronaldos are there and how many paid seven figures in the City?
Philip, Sutton Coldfield, UK
Large banks need to be regulated because they are not subject to market forces. They are free to make vast profits secure in the knowledge that the taxpayer will bail them out. So, no, they do NOT deserve to have the freedom to do whatever they want to and make stacks of cash for themselves. The argument that you need big sums of money to pull in the best people has already been proved to be wrong. The "best" people paid the most would now have bankrupted the big banks and the country if not for the taxpayer. The very same people whingeing here would have no jobs at all.
Reading those T&Cs
Mark suggested the drama Freefall missed the point - that consumers should read T&Cs
Concerning Freefall and the terms and conditions argument - I think it is unfair to believe that from reading terms and conditions you know exactly what you are getting into. These are often convoluted and written in a language that is foreign to most of us. Plloughing through it often becomes so dull you just think I'll sign and get the ball rolling - after all I have used this bank for years and as a trusted institution I'm sure they are not swindling me. Yes buying a house is a massive investment and yes the T's & C's are very important - but I also believe that it should just be put in plain language and explained to you in-depth by your mortgage advisor what you are getting into. Think of this as putting a price label on a item in a shop, I know the price, I can see how much I need to pay and if there is a discount that is marked off for me on the label, so again!
Nicola Wood, Preston
As a hospital doctor it is my job to explain difficult and often life-threatening conditions to people and their families - not to blame them for 'not reading the small print' or 'consumer stupidity'. Financial products can be made easier to understand - but where would the profit be in a sensible financial services industry? Oh, and footballers exist in a true free market - I don't watch football, that's my choice. But there's no question of massive taxpayer bailouts that all of us are paying for. Bankers should remember why most of them still have jobs
RE: Mark's comments about the security guy's mortgage. Fiction aside, I'm not convinced he would have understood the mortgage. I'm a first time buyer and finding the entire thing bewildering - and I have a 2:1 in a business degree from Cardiff Uni whose business school is highly rated. I'd like to think I have a bit of an education but there's so much choice and conflicting advice. Mortgages aren't the only issue: the finance industry needs to be simplified throughout, regardless of the different activities. After all, excessive complexity led to an insufficient amount of people (even board members in major global banks) being able to fully understand the high risks associated with subprime lending which caused the problems we all now have to deal with.
Alex, Birmingham, UK