Speculation is mounting over the payouts the major players will hand to bosses, staff and investors as they risk stoking controversy against a backdrop of economic carnage caused by the pandemic.
Lenders last year scrapped dividends after pressure from the Bank of England.
But the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) recently allowed lenders to resume paying divis, albeit on a limited basis, and all eyes are now on what the banks will announce alongside their full-year results.
Barclays kicks off proceedings on Thursday, when it is expected to announce underlying pre-tax profits, with charges and litigation costs stripped out, tumbling 55 per cent to £2.8bn for 2020 due to mammoth charges set aside for loans turned sour.
Reports suggest boss Jes Staley is still in line for a bonus – but probably a fraction of the £2m maximum for the annual award and far less than the £3.1m he landed in bonuses and long-term share incentives for 2019.
He joined counterpart bosses in announcing a cut to his fixed pay at the height of the crisis last year, but declined to rule out bonuses for his employees at third quarter results in October.
State-backed giant NatWest, which reports on Friday, is understood to be planning to share out a bonus pool for staff, but the smallest since its Government bailout more than 12 years ago.
The group – formerly Royal Bank of Scotland until a rebrand last year – is said to be proposing a bonus pot of around £200m for employees, down sharply on the £304m it handed out in 2019.
Chief executive Alison Rose, who took the reins in November 2019, has already said she would forgo any long-term incentive bonus shares – worth a potential £1.9m – for 2020.
HSBC boss Noel Quinn and Lloyds Banking Group chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio have likewise waived any payouts for last year. Lloyds said at the end of 2020 that all staff bonuses would be scrapped.
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