Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hester's Proof That Bankers Still Aren't in the Real World

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hester's Proof That Bankers Still Aren't in the Real World

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Blackhurst City Editor

STEPHEN Hester spent 19 years working at Credit Suisse First Boston, latterly as co-head of European investment banking. Then he went on to turn round Abbey with Luqman Arnold and run British Land, before agreeing to take charge of the revival of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

You don't have jobs like that without becoming very wealthy. And indeed Hester, 48, is just that, amassing more money than arguably he needs. Hester loves skiing, tennis, shooting, hunting and croquet. On his 350-acre estate near Banbury he has built a fine example of a formal English garden and amassed a superb collection of trees. His wife is also a banker and they have a son and daughter. His wife is a master of foxhounds in Warwickshire.

When I had lunch with Hester recently, we discussed how the country was in the grip of envy and how difficult it was, now he is at RBS, having his lifestyle laid bare.

At no point did it occur to me that he could be in line for as much as [pounds sterling]9.6 million in his new post at the taxpayer-rescued bank.

While Hester can argue a package that size is about par for the course for leading a major bank, I'm baffled as to why he accepted it. Surely he must have known that the media and MPs would have a field day? Yet again, my old friend, senior banker's hubris, appears to have played a determining role.

It's sad because Hester really is an intelligent man, not frightfully grand. What it shows is that bankers haven't changed, that the same ways still exist.

I didn't need Hester's pay to tell me this. I remember, in the middle of the crisis, going to breakfast with the head of a US investment bank in London at its executive townhouse in the West End. He ordered a full English and when he didn't get the grilled sausage he was expecting, barked at the poor waitress who had to scurry off and produce one for him. …

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