Big London Survey Reveals That Even Bankers Think They Make Too Much

The London-based St. Paul Institute, the cathedral’s working group on the subject of financial services’ ethics, just released a report on bankers’ ethics that it commissioned from the market research company ComRes.

The 24-page report, which is embedded below, says its research “confirms and refutes numerous stereotypes about financial services professionals working in the City of London [Wall Street of London]… For example, ‘salary and bonuses’ are the most important motivation for professionals working in the FS sector in London for 64% of participants. “Enjoyment of the work” comes a distant second.”

The motivation behind the study is the Church’s belief that City professionals’ pay is out-of-whack with what other professionals make, and that it’s causing a disturbing divide in society. At least one big name banker agrees with the Church: Ken Costa, a former UBS Europe and Lazard international Chairman. Reuters describes his involvement:

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Costa said he would look at “how the market has managed to slip its moral moorings.” For some time and particularly during the exuberant irrationality of the last few decades, the market economy has shifted from its moral foundations with disastrous consequences,” he said. While still regarding financial incentives as “both valid and effective”, he said there was a need to “re-balance the equilibrium between risk, responsibility and reward.”

We haven’t read the study in full yet, but so far, we’ve found one interesting data point. Most financial services professionals might be motivated to work in the sector because of the pay, but most think their peers make more than they deserve to. Of course that’s not an admission that they themselves make too much money. It seems that feeling’s reserved for those who make more than them — particularly City bond traders.

A majority of FS professionals think that “bankers,” “stock brokers,” the “FTSE 100 chief executives,” “lawyers,” and “City bond traders” get paid too much, [particularly] “City bond traders,” with 66% saying they get paid too much, compared to 26% who say they get paid about right.

In fairness, the study might have only surveyed them about pay in 8 professions. The chart is below.


Of course, the study also questioned the relationship that FS professionals have with religion.

“41% of FS professionals in London currently believe in God, which compares to 38% who do not. However findings suggest that they are not active about their faith as 47% say they never attend a religious service or meeting, apart from special occasions. 76% of FS professionals do not agree that the City needs to listen more to the guidance of the Church.”

We’ll keep digging through it, but in the meantime, here it is.

Value and Values – Perceptions of Ethics in the City Today