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Full text of "War-time financial problems"

THE  PAY  OF  DIRECTORS         169

obvious anxiety to lose no time in returning to them;
most of them old men, many of them long retired from
business ; some of them ex-Government officials and the
like, who have never been in business ; a few ornamental
titled persons; only one ,or two here and there who
have no train to catch and are willing to discuss the
matter in hand with attention, and, it may be, with
understanding,

" It would be idle to pretend that a board of this
kind constitutes anything like the nexus between
industry and finance which obtains in Germany, and
which is very much to be desired in this country. It
may be that we do not pay our men enough. A London
director has to be content with an honorific position, a
fee of a few hundred pounds a year, and, it must be
added, a very exiguous degree of responsibility. That
is not enough to attract men in the prime of life with
expert or technical knowledge of industry and finance,
who would have to submit to a reduction in the large
incomes they are earning by the exercise of their special
abilities if they were to accept a seat on the board of a
bank. There are two things which a good man, in the
business sense of the term, will not do without—pay and
responsibility. Give him sufficient of the former, and
you may saddle him with as much of the latter as you
like. You may not always get good men by offering
them good pay, but you will certainly not get them,
without doing so. Apparently shareholders are content
so long as their profits are not reduced by more than
nominal directors' fees. At a recent meeting of a bank
with deposits of over £200,000,000 the proposal to
increase the directors' fees to £1000 a year was met by
the rejoinder from one of the shareholders present that
he did not know what the directors would do with such
a sum,

" They manage these things differently in Germany.
In the three banks to which we have already referred,
after payment by the Deutsche Bank of 5 per cent, of