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Are bank directors ‘sharks’ or highly qualified managers?


Bankers are all sharks! Or is it just more nuanced and is a salary of 500,000 to one million euros a acceptable reward for the highly complex and responsible functions they exercise?

Louk de Wilde (69) knows the boardrooms of the banking operations from within. He started his career in the early 1980s as a young manager with a bonus of 3000 guilders and ended up as ceo of Fortis Switzerland. He earned a good salary by several tons, but became not very rich. He stopped in 2004 when mother bank Fortis got into trouble and eventually had to be taken over by the Dutch and Belgian Governments. De Wilde came in the news last year with his book Bankers never learn. In his book he explains why banks never really learn from a crisis. “You see it now to the policy of the central banks, by constantly pumping more new money into the economy. It is to make paying off debts by new debts. That leads to a new crisis in the long term. “


De Wilde lives partly in Switzerland, partly in the Netherlands and has closely followed all the commotion about the salary increase of a ton for the Board members of the ABN Amro. “First the remuneration structure of the banks for the crisis was completely out of control. It can of course not be the case that a manager can be financially independent in a few years time. They are not independent entrepreneurs, who put a product or a service on the market for their own risk. They may earn millions for all I care. But for a director or manager there are other standards.

David saw the financial excesses of the 1990s arise in business in the United States. “There was the concept of shareholder value. If the management could realize that the shares went up, they were allowed to earn everything what they wanted. That’s what came to us via England, first at the business and later also at the banks. ” 

The salary of the members of the Board of ABN Amro finds de Wilde certainly not out of proportion. “You can argue whether it must be some more or less, but it’s not nearly as much as what the top in business makes. The bank salaries has become the plaything of politics. I find that sad. ” De Wilde knows from experience that it is not easy to lead a bank. “They are very complex organizations, with on the one hand, employees in the sales like to take risks and, on the other hand, the risk managers who should be on the brake pedal. You have always the trade off: what can be done and what could turn out wrong. ”

“You have to manage that your records are in order, your balance and comply with the rules of the supervisor. You have to deal with politicians. You need to make sure your have customers and manage to keep them. All of that makes you need highly qualified people. That cosst money, but then we talk not about a million or so. That is greatly exaggerated. And certainly do not award them with options or bonuses. 


With bankers, so knows de Wilde, nothing human is strange. Their salary is not only to purchases or to buy a car, it is also a piece of recognition of their abilities. High salary means high regard. David: “also in my time there were all of those desks with lists, which you could see what other companies and banks paid to their top employees. Then you might step to your commissioners with the question: what are we going to do about my salary. Look what they earn at the competitor. And if you do well and you makes 60 million profit no major problems there with a high salary. “


Yet shows that many supervisors in both the public and private sector, quite easy provided very generous salary increases. David: “that’s right, also there are made a lot of mistakes. But look at many of those supervisors. Some are very rich, owning itself tens of millions. Then you look very different at a salary increase of a half or a whole ton, then that employee whose job is on the line. ”

The question is whether leading a bank is ‘ Nice work ‘. David: “In my time though, I worked as general manager and CEO with a lot of pleasure. But then it was still a venerable bank manager job, like that of the notary and the mayor. That’s obviously changed.

So if it’s still such an attractive job? I am not sure. “

Photo credit: amsfrank / Foter / CC BY-SA


About Frank Scheers

Mijn geboortestad Amsterdam is een prachtig uitgangspunt voor journalistiek. Amsterdam staat voor vrijheid van meningsuiting en tolerantie. Als journalist wil ik mij vrij en zonder beperkingen kunnen uiten over hetgeen zich in Amsterdam afspeelt, maar ook in de rest van de wereld. Ik schrijf zoveel mogelijk mijn eigen content, maar scan ook de rest van de wereld af naar opvallend nieuws. Dit nieuws hoeft niet altijd breaking news te zijn. Dit kan heel interessant nieuws zijn dat even belangrijk is als breaking news, maar iets minder bekend is, maar net zo belangrijk kan zijn voor de opinievorming. Naast nieuws uit Amsterdam en wereldnieuws richt ik mij ook op fraaie artikelen over politiek, mode, luxe artikelen, gezondheid, het milieu, entertainment, life style, business, onderwijs, shopping, gastronomie, reizen et cetera. Amsterdam Today is een actief online news magazine en wij brengen artikelen in het Nederlands en in het Engels. Belangrijk om te noemen is dat Amsterdam Today zich bezig houdt met Immersive Journalism. Dat wil zeggen dat wij fascinerend nieuws brengen in combinatie met virtual reality technieken. Je ervaart dan het nieuws alsof je er zelf bij bent. My hometown Amsterdam is a wonderful starting point for journalism. Amsterdam stands for freedom of speech and tolerance. As a journalist, I can express freely and without restrictions on what is happening in Amsterdam, but also in the rest of the world. I write my own content as much as possible, but also scan the rest of the globe for striking news. This news doesn't always have to be breaking news. This can be very interesting news that is as important as breaking news, but slightly less known and just as important to the way people form their opinions. In addition to news from Amsterdam and the world news I also write about articles on politics, fashion, luxury, health, environment, entertainment, life style, business, education, shopping, wining and dining, travel and so on. Amsterdam Today is an active online news magazine and we bring articles in Dutch and in English. Important to mention is that Amsterdam Today deals with Immersive Journalism. That means that we bring fascinating news in combination with virtual reality techniques. You will experience the news as if you were there. Contact: Website | More Posts