London leads 11 percent jump in bankers earning 1 million euros

Fri Nov 29, 2013 8:57am EST
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By Steve Slater

LONDON (Reuters) - More than 3,500 bankers in Europe earned 1 million euros ($1.4 million) or more last year after a big jump across the continent and in Britain, which had 12 times as many high earners as any other country.

Figures from the bloc's banking regulator on Friday showed that London-based bankers would have easily bust the European Union bonus cap rule coming into effect next year. Bonuses for the highest earners were almost four times fixed pay.

The scale of bankers' bonuses remains a hot topic among politicians and the public. Many blame high pay for the risk-taking that led to the 2008/09 financial crisis and a series of mis-selling and misconduct scandals.

The European Union is trying to curb excessive pay and has said that from 2014 bonuses for "risk-taking" staff cannot exceed annual salary, or twice that if shareholders give their approval.

The latest data from the European Banking Authority (EBA) shows that 3,529 bankers in the EU earned at least 1 million euros in 2012, up 11 percent in 2011.

They were paid 6.6 billion euros in aggregate, including 5 billion in bonuses, representing more than 10 percent of the EU bank industry's after-tax profits in 2012. These bankers represent about 0.1 percent of the 3 million people who work in banks across Europe.

Britain accounted for 2,714 of those top earners, up 11 percent on the year before, partly reflecting London's dominant position as Europe's financial center and home to major operations for banks from the United States, Switzerland and other countries outside the EU.

The data shows that banks in Britain and France in particular need to adjust pay structures to meet new the rules because variable pay was almost four times fixed pay.   Continued...

The Canary Wharf financial district is seen in east London February 28, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth