Saturday, 7 July 2012


Investment Banks are equally good at euphemising and hyperbole, in the sense of sort of an inverted form of euphemising to make grubby or unseemly things seem important, grand and dignified. The best at it are their Personnel folk (did I say Personnel? I'm sorry - I mean Human Capital Management).

It is they who come up with bright ideas like "rebranding" your wages & benefits as "Rewards".

Now, being given a "reward" sounds like you've won a competition of skill, returned a missing whippet to its owner, or uncomplainingly completed a lifetime of selfless good works. A "reward" is that gold watch; the football that every good boy deserves.

It doesn't sound much like the filthy lucre that bankers (used to) get paid.

Once upon a time our "Rewards" were called "Compensation". We liked that, because it felt closer to what it was.

"Compensation" speaks of wrongs perpetrated; it suggests vain attempts at rectification; hollow acts of retribution for unspeakable ugliness. "Compensation" implies a forlorn essay at correcting unexpungeable stains of moral compromise on the part of the recipient: that someone has made outrageous use of compromising pictures which nonetheless are clearly of him.