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London Bankers See Wealth Gap, Reject Listening to Church

London’s Bankers Say U.K. Wealth Gap Too Big, Church Report
The majority of the 515 finance workers surveyed said stockbrokers, FTSE 100 chief executive officers, lawyers and bond traders are paid too much and teachers too little, the institute said in a statement today. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Three-quarters of London financial professionals said the gap between rich and poor is too big, according to a report by the St. Paul’s Institute, a church group that seeks to engage banks with moral questions.

The same survey suggests bankers don’t want to hear from religious leaders on the subject -- 76 percent said the City of London financial district doesn’t need to listen more to the church’s guidance, the institute said in a statement today, citing a ComRes opinion poll it commissioned. The majority of the 515 finance workers surveyed said stockbrokers, FTSE 100 chief executive officers, lawyers and bond traders are paid too much and teachers too little.

The institute delayed publishing the report for two weeks after demonstrators, inspired by anti-Wall Street protests in New York and other cities, set up about 200 tents outside the 17th century landmark last month. Officials last week dropped plans to evict the protesters after the demonstrations shut the church for six days and prompted the resignations of two top cathedral officials. Instead, the church started an initiative with financial-services firms which it said will aim to reconnect the industry with “the ethical.”

“The concerns being expressed by some of those involved in the protest are also shared by many within the financial sector,” Robert Gordon, manager of the Institute, said by e-mail. “Beneath it all is a feeling of disconnection between many in society and the economic structures that we all rely upon.”

`Enjoyment of Work'

For 64 percent of finance workers, salary and bonuses were the most important motivation, with “enjoyment of work” a “distant second,” according to the poll. Only about 14 percent of respondents correctly identified the London Stock Exchange’s historical motto -- my word is my bond, the Institute said.

Almost seven in 10 respondents didn’t know that this year is the 25th anniversary of “Big Bang,” former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s deregulation of the U.K. financial services industry. That anniversary prompted the report.

The St. Paul’s Institute organizes debates and lectures about ethics and finance. At an Oct. 20 event, Generation Investment Management LLP’s co-founder, David Blood, said he shared many of the concerns of the protesters. His fund company manages about $6.5 billion.

ComRes completed the survey on Sept. 12, before global equality campaigners started protesting outside the cathedral.

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