Outside Edge: A bonus in his fingertips

12th March, 2011

Minutes of the March 11 2011 meeting of the remuneration committee of HotShots Bank

The committee approved the minutes of the previous meeting.

The committee contemplated the conclusions of Project Merlin, under which it had promised to pay exactly the bonuses it had been planning to pay all along, before moving on to its main business: the pay and conditions of star trader, Mr Charles Sheen, following recent complaints about his highly unusual behaviour.

The committee heard that, at Mr Sheen’s most recent performance review, he was asked by his line manager whether he had been abusing prohibited substances.

He replied: “I am on a drug. It’s called Charlie Sheen. It’s not available because if you try it, you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body.”

It was suggested to Mr Sheen at the time that, in fact, “Charlie Sheen” was not the only drug he was taking. He replied, “I probably took more drugs than anyone could survive. I was banging seven-gram rocks, because that’s how I roll. I have one speed, I have one gear: Go.”

When it was further put to Mr Sheen that this was incompatible with HotShots Bank’s code of ethical business practices, he blamed the bank “for giving me this much dough knowing who they were giving it to.”

When asked to comment on his business performance, Mr Sheen replied, “I’ve got magic. I’ve got poetry in my fingertips. Most of the time – and this includes naps – I’m an F-18.”

Noting grave concerns about his deportment in the office environment, the remuneration committee moved to the matter of Mr Sheen’s behaviour in front of the parliamentary working group on banking reform, at which he had waved a machete and declared himself to be “winning”. His convictions for domestic violence were also officially recorded in his personnel file, and it was noted that his wife had recently been awarded a restraining order against him.

The committee then considered objective measures of Mr Sheen’s performance. These were impressive: Mr Sheen’s trading had contributed tens of millions of pounds to the bank’s bottom line over the previous year.

At this point the committee was minded to view Mr Sheen’s transgressions as a private matter, and not one over which it behoved HotShots Bank to take an excessively paternalistic line.

It was also noted that Mr Sheen, a self-pronounced “total freakin’ rock star from Mars” appeared to regard himself as very mobile. If not paid a bonus in line with his compensation expectations, he would surely quit.

It was not clear exactly how Mr Sheen’s compensation expectations were formed, nor what psychological condition he was in when he formed them. Nevertheless the remuneration committee concluded that Mr Sheen was “winning” and unanimously decided to award him £48m plus a guaranteed bonus of the same size next year.

There being no other business, the committee concluded the meeting.

Also published at ft.com.

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