Call to rebuild reputation of banks

Antonio Horta-Osorio Banker-bashing and the sector's tattered reputation are putting young people off a career in banking, the boss of taxpayer-backed Lloyds Banking Group has warned.

Soaring distrust of banks and embarrassment about working for one is causing a damaging talent drain, Lloyds chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio said in a speech at Oxford University's Said Business School.

The 39% taxpayer-owned lender, which has itself been scarred by a series of scandals including customer mis-selling, said it "urgently" needs to change perceptions of the industry to make it an attractive career.

Banking has also been hit by the Libor rate-rigging scandal at lenders including Barclays and RBS, mis-selling of complex interest rate swaps to small businesses and high bonuses.
Mr Horta-Osorio said the sector must rebuild its reputation to attract young people. He said: "We want the best and the brightest to see banking as a credible career choice. This is vital for the industry's long-term viability."

Lloyds said its research shows 28% of students would be too embarrassed to tell friends they work in a bank, while 41% said they distrust banks and finance firms. Another 56% said they trust banks less than they did five years ago. Only 2% said they were likely to pursue a career in banking and finance, compared with 26% who said they were likely to work in the public sector.

Mr Horta-Osorio added: "The next generation should see banking as an industry that helps to build economic wealth and is playing its part as a useful member of our local communities."

Lloyds handed 25 of its staff £1 million or more in pay and bonuses last year, with five employees picking up in excess of £2 million. Mr Horta-Osorio was paid £2.5 million in pay and deferred bonuses last year, and also received £1.1 million in shares to be released in 2016 subject to performance targets.

Despite £570 million of losses in 2012, staff still shared a £365 million total bonus pot, equivalent to £3,900 per employee.

Banks have also been culling staff heavily in recent years. Lloyds recently announced plans to axe 850 staff and close a large office in Southend, Essex. Lloyds, HSBC and Barclays have announced cuts of around 5,500 jobs since the beginning of 2013, according to a union.