About my bonus

Yes it’s bonus time in the Scottish Episcopal Church.  And as in the world of banking, so in the church – everybody wins.  We work on a complicated measurement of prayers said, e mails sent, Vestries chaired, visits done, funerals conducted, sermons preached …. But whatever the measurement, we expect to get our bonuses.

It’s easy to take potshots at bankers at the moment.  Some will protest that they have met their targets – their bit of the bank is profitable – so why should they not receive their due?  But they disregard the fact that they are part of a corporate whole which has been bailed out by the taxpayer.  I know that many of the people who receive bonuses – not the mega-millions – rely on that as part of their pay just to deal with the mortgage or the car loan.  I am mindful too of bank staff who have been rewarded with bank shares which are now almost worthless.  There have been many losers – within the banks as well as without

And yet I have long believed that some choices carry us into the realm of something close to spirituality – even tho’ they are not identifiably religious choices.  The victim – victim of violence or wronged spouse or whatever – is entitled to anger and revenge but chooses to set that aside.  That brave choosing becomes the start of the painful path towards the forgiveness and healing which will ultimately set all parties free.  And the choice about bonuses is a bit like that.  ‘Entitled’ is a big word – it may have moral or contractual dimensions.  The question is whether it is ‘right’ for those, who have already benefitted beyond the dreams of many,  to set aside that to which they feel that they are ‘entitled’.  Because down that road might lie the birth of a more communitarian, less acquisitive and less envious culture.


  1. I kind of agree with Morag here – my other half Alan works for HBOS-that-was, and is one of those small cogs in the machine that she mentions. In the past we have benefited from the bonus culture of the banking system, albeit in a very small way.

    However, after being visited this week by Lloyds management staff, who asked everyone in his department what it is that they do and being left feeling like a picked over corpse, I’m pretty certain he and his colleagues would prefer to forgoe this year’s bonus if it means staving off the redundancies that are being worried about.

    ho hum…

  2. That makes sense to me – and of course a progression something the same has been happening in church life and affecting the lives of clergy. I’ll write a fresh blog about that.

  3. Hello, my name is Morag and I am a reformed Compensation and Benefits Consultant!

    Having seen friends join up to groups on Facebook slating all bankers, I have to say I have some sympathy for those who work in my shadowy past-life of the financial sector.

    In these organisations, the vast majority of employees are tiny cogs in a huge wheel that they have no control over. There is a strong performance management culture which feeds into a clearly defined bonus structure at all levels within the organisation.

    Bad decisions have been made at the top, so the executives and senior management should not be rewarded, but the minions who have worked their socks off meeting and exceeding the targets they have been set, should get what they are entitled to. This year, anyway.

    Your average member of branch staff is pretty poorly paid and the package is made up to something modest with sales bonuses. You’d be better off financially as a clergy person in the SEC! Maybe that should be part of a new recruitment strategy to ordained ministry?!

  4. If the service industry is based on servicing manufacturing, thus value adding but derived value adding, then the economy after this crash has to be more modest. We were not the financier for the world, but immersed in the inflation of bonds that expanded credit and was of that that found its way into credit cards and property prices.

    If the Chinese make, there has to be a way of paying wages into the West that is more than borrowing to buy Chinese output. That’s just an example. It’s unclear that a state directed capitalist China will leave sufficient manufacture to the rest of the world if price levels and currency levels remain deliberately suppressed.

    It’ll be like Iceland: Icelandic people will make what Icelanders need, and banks serve them, not get lost in a credit mania worldwide that wrecked the economic system infrastructure.

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