LONDON (Reuters) - British bank regulators will look at the possibility of deferring bankers' bonus payments beyond five years and reducing up-front cash payments for performance, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said on Wednesday.
"We would rather see more deferral, more equity and this ability to take it back when those risks come to light," Carney told lawmakers in Britain's parliament.
Many Britons blame bankers' risk-taking for the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent slump and deferring bonuses is seen as a way to prevent bankers from taking excessive risks in order to win bigger bonuses.
Under European Union rules, only a minority part of a bonus can be paid upfront in cash, with the remainder deferred over five years and paid in shares that vest over time.
The BoE's regulatory arm, the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), will consult on whether to go further and implement a recommendation by a parliamentary commission on banking standards for a 10-year deferral period.
The PRA is also set to consult separately in coming months on how to put into practice the idea of clawing back bonuses awarded for financial market bets that eventually turn sour.
Clawbacks, a tool that world leaders called for at the height of the 2007-09 financial crisis, have been discussed increasingly in recent months when more bankers were caught up in mis-selling scandals and probes into alleged manipulation of benchmarks for interest rates and foreign exchange.
Carney told lawmakers on Wednesday that for purposes of keeping financial systems stable, the way in which bankers are paid was key rather than the actual amount.
"What we are most focused on is the structure of compensation, not the level of compensation," Carney said.
EU bankers bonus rules are being toughened up with the introduction of a cap on awards for 2014 onwards, limiting them to no more than fixed salary or twice that level with shareholder approval.
Britain is challenging the cap in the EU's top court.
Carney, asked if such a curb was too crude, replied: "Absolutely. "