There were 72 uses of the vacuous phrase "Go-To" in Barclays' annual report.
Chief executive Antony Jenkins clearly hopes repetition of his ambition for the bank will make the term stick. Forget it. The phrase that will be remembered is "death spiral".
Jenkins used it in an interview with the Daily Telegraph to explain why Barclays paid bigger bonuses despite a 37% fall in profits from investment banking. Smaller payments, he said, would have caused too many defections: the dreaded spiral had to be avoided. Jenkins might as well have said he is powerless to resist the annual bonus-grab.
Pay for performance? Go-To hell, his bankers replied.
A chief executive in Jenkins' position can roll over only once, as competitors also know. Rival investment banks on poaching missions will milk the "death spiral" line. Not a smart thing to say.
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