The Square Mile district.

. . . Britain’s got ‘talent’ . . .


I would like to say right from the outset of this post, that I have no knowledge of how the worlds financial systems work.

I guess my level of knowledge – monetary speaking – is the same as most other people out there. I know enough to get by month by month and that is about my limit.

At long last we are getting to hear some good news about the economy here in the UK. It would seem that the UK economy has recovered to the level where it was, just before the sky caved-in during the financial crash of 2008. Those that study these things, are happy about this outbreak of good news about the economy. According to our political masters, this news vindicates the governments economic policies since wresting the reigns of power from the Labour Party in 2010.

However, along with the rest of you, I feel no better off in my bank account or wallet upon hearing about this undoubtedly good news. Apparently, we will start to feel the benefits of this economic growth after the general election next year.

Well I am sure that we all feel better for knowing that . . .

It is good to hear too that riding atop of this wave of optimism and good news about the economy, are all the bankers and financial titans who were were so complicit in bringing the global banking system to its knees in the first place. No doubt they feel that this economic turnaround is in no short measure, due to their fiscal brilliance and undoubted ‘talent’. Accompanying this new wave of optimism are some phrases and notions that we have not heard for a long time. They are words such as ‘bonuses’ and the notion of awarding themselves six figure salaries, no doubt in recognition of their financial prowess.

It would appear that if bonuses – at least matching their annual salaries – are not awarded to those that are in possession of all this ‘talent’, we run the serious risk of losing them to other financial centres in the world who do recognise their unique gifts and as such, prepared to reward them with the ‘going rate’ for these gifts that they possess in such abundance.

They would have us believe that if you wish to keep this enviable pool of ‘talent’ that we have in The City of London, it is only right and proper that we recognise them by paying the global ‘going rate’ that is their undoubted due.

Hmmm . . . I do find this term ‘talent’ hard to swallow when used in the same sentence as the words bankers, financiers and city traders. You see, I tend to think of that word when used to describe people such as artists, musicians, surgeons and entertainers. Those that have gifts that the rest of us could only dream of possessing. Their talents are such that when demonstrated by them, bring levels of enjoyment and skills to our lives that only they can deliver.

I would even go so far as adding Premiership Footballers to that list of talented people. Their talents are richly rewarded with stellar wage packets – but that is probably the subject of another post. But what they deliver on the football pitch, provides immense pleasure to their supporters and is unique to them. It is undoubtedly a talent.

However, I find it hard to use the word ‘talent’ when referring to bankers, financiers and city traders. Without doubt the work that they do is important to the companies that they work for and like many others that work in the world of banking and finance, requires years of training to reach a level of competency required to become proficient at what they do.

But how much different is what they do, to the thousands of others who commute in and out of The City every day? All doing a fair days work for a fair days wages. I imagine that what these lesser lights do – day in, day out – is as equally important to the companies that they work for, as the work that these so called ‘talented’ people do in the world of finance.

Why do they think that what they do requires a ‘talent’ so unique, that it attracts a six figure salary and an annual bonus that would probably wipe out the debt of a third world country? The big difference between them and the rest of us, is that we have to live in the real world. We do not expect and do not receive, huge bonuses just for doing our jobs. Yes, we expect recognition for doing our jobs well and for being loyal. But what we do not expect or receive are six figure salaries and annual bonuses for being loyal and for just doing what you are paid to do.

I just don’t buy into this ‘talent’ notion and the inflated self-importance that it attaches to their job descriptions. Lets be clear, it was these same people who sowed the seeds of a banking crisis and associated recession that we are only now slowly extricating ourselves from.

Those who were deemed most culpable and led us into the worst recession since the 1930’s, were suitably chastised and as such, were asked to fall upon their swords. However, they did not suffer for their deeds in proportion to the rest of the population and its economy, which they so thoroughly bought to the edge of ruin. The worst that happened for those most culpable for the economic meltdown, was that they had to vacate their lofty City directorships – losing a knighthood or gong or two along the way – and retire to their comfortable country piles to lick their wounds, no doubt cushioned by their huge share options and copper-bottomed pensions that they voted for themselves, prior to having to bade a tearful farewell to the rest of their ‘talented’ city chums.

No worrying about where the money was going to come from to pay their next utility bills. No having to prove to a medical panel by walking 25 yards or more, that you are entitled to a disability living allowance that you had been receiving unchallenged for years, until the recession led to swingeing cuts in public spending, in a despairing effort to balance the national books.

As David Cameron so memorably remarked at the beginning of his premiership – ‘we are all in this together’. Well I guess some have been lot deeper ‘in it’ then some notable ‘others’. It seems to me that those who were most responsible for this awful banking crisis, suffered far less than the majority of us who had no say in all the clever financial wheezes that those with the ‘talent’ were pulling out of the hat in the years leading up to the bubble bursting.

Upon reflection, I feel that if those in other global financial centres are prepared to pay the inflated salaries and bonuses that these high flying financiers and bankers feel their ‘talents’ are worth, then they are welcome to offer them the ‘going rate’.

Let them go so as to free up the places that they vacate for those many young people waiting in the wings, who will be more than willing to do an honest days work for far more realistic wages and bonuses. Wages that reflect the real world that most of us have to live and earn a living in.

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