BQ Newsletter
As I see it

Standing firm on bonus row

Tuesday 28 February 2012 11:00

As chief exec pay packets are squeezed by public pressure, City-based headhunter Adrian Kinnersley argues that bonus is not a dirty word.

The constant and overwhelming barrage of negative rhetoric about executive pay and bankers’ bonuses is no good for business no good for the country  and no good for any potential  economic recovery.

Obviously  pay has to be appropriate to success and rewards for failure are wrong.  However,  competitive pay for success is fundamental to the viability of business in Britain and is  a basic feature of capitalism, which in the absence of any viable alternative is pretty key to everyone.

The ability  to attract, retain and reward the very best talent globally is critical to the state of the economy and the speed of our recovery. To encourage entrepreneurialism and aspiration is the only way to soak up the inevitable and necessary dramatic job cuts in the public sector.

Unfounded and completely inaccurate accusations of board level pay collusion in the biggest companies in Britain, the constant press spotlight on rewarding anyone, regardless of performance, a significant financial incentive and the excessive use of sound bites such as “fat cats” and “crony capitalism” will literally bore the best talent from this country.

Sooner or later our politicians need to realise that pretty much the only thing left that is actually “great” about Britain is our ability to compete on a global level in business -  and that a number of companies choose to have their global headquarters or a significant presence here.

This is literally all we have left that gets us a seat at the  table for the most important discussions happening in the world.  If we kill this by belittling the ability of companies to reward their best people, we will just be a small island with an awful lot of debt and  no way left to pay it off.

In my view,  some brave politician needs to stand up for our business community, risk not taking the popular view , accept that it may mean  that they don’t get re-elected , and  actually explain to the press and the general population how numerous government funded statistical surveys have used half-truths and lazy maths to stoke up a negative fervour that is leading us down an economic cul-de-sac.

How about putting businesses that have actually managed to grow on a pedestal  and how about sorting their own house out before grabbing some more easy headlines and wasting time on policies that impact a very small number of people getting a bonus.

Adrian Kinnersley is managing director of Twenty Recruitment, a London and New York professional search consultancy