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A detailed comparison of pay at Barclays, RBS and HSBC

Pay at Barclays, RBS and HSBC

Barclays looks best

While people were eating chocolate eggs, the British banks Barclays, HSBC and RBS quietly released their remuneration reports for 2014. Unsurprisingly, if you want to earn big money at a UK firm, RBS is not the place to be.

Best bank for earning more than €1m: Barclays

560 people earned more than €1m at Barclays last year. This compared to 317 at HSBC and 130 at RBS.

Barclays also pays more 149 people more than €2m. If you want to earn biiiig money, go to Barclays, basically.

Best bank for overall pay: Barclays 

Even if you’re not earning €1m, Barclays is the place to be. In 2014, average pay per head for material risk takers at Barclays was £886k ($1.3m). This compared to £770k ($1.1m) at HSBC and £489k ($727k) at RBS.

Best bank for salaries: Barclays 

Surprise! Barclays also pays its material risk takers (MRTs) the highest salaries out of the three British banks. The average salary for a Barclays MRT in 2014 was £428k ($637k). This compared to £417k ($613k) at HSBC and £327k ($486k) at RBS.

Best bank for regulatory avoidance: RBS

Weirdly, RBS has the smallest number of ‘material risk takers’ whose pay is subject to regulatory surveillance. The government-owned bank had just 904 people in this category in 2014, compared to 1,277 at Barclays and 1,178 at HSBC.

Admittedly, RBS employs fewer people in its investment bank than Barclays but its MRTs are still a relatively small proportion of the total: assuming all RBS’s MRTs are in the investment bank (unlikely) just 5% of RBS investment bank staff had their pay regulated last year, compared to 6% at Barclays.

Best bank for deferrals: RBS 

RBS also beats its British rivals on deferrals. RBS’s deferral policy is simple: it defers bonuses equally over a three year period and pays the first installment after six months.

At Barclays, bonuses are also deferred equally over a three year period. However, 100% of all managing directors bonuses are deferred and deferrals start once pay hits £65k. At HSBC, bonuses are also deferred over three years, but very senior staff have a five year ‘cliff vesting’ deferral in which they’re only able to access a portion of their bonuses in year five.

Best bank for ‘role-based pay’: Barclays 

Each of the British banks pays so-called ‘role based allowances’, but Barclays’ allowances look the most appealing. Both RBS and HSBC specify that their allowances are paid in restricted shares, but Barclays makes no mention of shares in its annual report and according to the Financial Times, non-executive Barclays bankers receive their allowances in monthly installments of cash.

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