Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank is considering asking its shareholders what they think of the pay of its top executives. Since everyone knows what the answer would be, only a select band of shareholders is being asked their views.
This band will not include individual shareholders, some of whom have watched their shares sink from 350p to below 200p in the past year. Rather, the soundings will be taken among those with clout rather than with their own cash on the line, which of course means the institutional shareholders.
CYBG, which is changing its name to the less confusing Virgin Money, is keen to avoid a rerun of last year’s annual meeting, when a third of shareholders voted against the package for chief executive David Duffy.
The plan now is to get the big holders onside, doubtless by telling moving tales of how hard it is to get bankers out of bed for the sort of salaries ordinary mortals receive.
It might strike a blow for sanity here to imagine that the shareholders being consulted would insist that a decent salary might be enough without 20 pages of targets and incentives. Fat chance.
The fund managers being consulted are themselves beneficiaries of very big remuneration packages, few of which are subject to public scrutiny. They only vote against excessive pay when the corporate governance police tell them to. They will rubber-stamp Mr Duffy’s bonus plans, and if he puts in a duff performance, he will get paid handsomely to go away.