London Bankers 'Find Rich-Poor Divide Too Wide'

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Agence France Presse

London Bankers 'Find Rich-Poor Divide Too Wide'

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Demonstrators dressed as zombie bankers participate in a flash mob outside the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange in London October 31, 2011. (photo: REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett)

LONDON — Financial sector workers in Britain believe the gap between rich and poor is too wide, according to a survey by a think-tank published on Monday.

The report, by an institute linked to St Paul's Cathedral in London where anti-capitalist protesters have been camping since mid-October, said 75 percent of respondents thought the wealth divide was too big.

Bankers, brokers and corporate lawyers working in the City of London financial district were questioned about the ethics of their salaries and bonuses and corporate social responsibility.

Two-thirds of respondents said "salary and bonuses" were the main motivation for financial services professionals, with "enjoyment of the work" coming a distant second.

However, 70 percent of respondents believe bonuses and rewards for City workers should only reflect long-term success, rather than short-term performance.

Most financial services professionals in London think that deregulation of financial markets results in less ethical behaviour.

Deregulation in 1986 helped transform the City of London into a rival to Wall Street in New York.

But it changed a culture of financial partnerships -- where bankers and traders essentially betted on markets with their own money -- into a culture based increasingly on risk-taking.

The St Paul's Institute report, "Value and Values: Perceptions of Ethics in the City Today", was based on a survey of 515 financial professionals carried out between August 30 and September 12.

The 200-tent camp of protesters demonstrating against corporate greed outside St Paul's Cathedral -- an offshoot of the Occupy Movement, which began in Wall Street in New York -- has sharply divided the cathedral authorities.

Planned legal action against the activists was suspended and the head of St Paul's, Dr Giles Fraser, resigned rather than see protesters forcibly evicted.

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