If there is anything Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign taught the world, it is that financial firms are extremely generous when it comes to compensating politicians who one day may make a triumphal return to leadership roles, with obvious quid-pro-quo motivations. After all, the Clintons made over $100 million on speeches alone after Bill Clinton’s presidency, mostly to the financial industry, with payors hoping that in addition to purchasing an hour of speech time “deep insights”, they acquired some key goodwill and favors which would one day get repaid.
Of course, all that ended up being a sunk cost in the case of Hillary Clinton, but the principle remains and nowhere is it more evident than in the case of former UK Chancellor George Osborne (who endorsed Hillary Clinton last May) who as was revealed today, will earn £650,000, or nearly $800,000, per year for “working” four days a month at BlackRock, a sum which according to the FT is more than ten times what he is paid as an MP once expected share awards from the world’s largest fund manager are included.
Osborne agreed to join BlackRock in early 2017 and his compensation was disclosed on the UK’s Budget Day in the register of members’ financial interests at the House of Commons on Wednesday. The FT notes that the 45-year-old became a part-time senior adviser at the BlackRock Investment Institute, the US group’s research arm, in February. He expects to spend a day a week working for the institute.
Incidentally it’s not just BlackRock: in true Clinton fashion, it was also revealed that Osborne he earned £786,450 last year from giving 15 speeches, naturally mostly to financial institutions. That said, Osborne will need to step up his game if he wants to catch up to some Clinton-level invoices: the most he earned for speaking was £81,174 and £60,578 for two speeches at JPMorgan’s New York headquarters lasting a total of seven hours last October, a rather shabby £20,000 per hour .
He also earned £15,081 for one speech at Lloyds Bank, part-owned by the government, in February 2016, however the proceeds of this speech were given to a local charity in his local constituency.
As the FT detrails, in addition to his average BlackRock income, which averages to £13,542 per day , Osborne said he expected to receive an unspecified amount of shares in the asset manager, which is likely to bring his total annual compensation to over £1 million.
So, like in the case of Hillary Clinton, is Osborne just getting pad to sit there and look pretty, while occasionally opening his mouth? Pretty much:
BlackRock has said Mr Osborne will give his views and advice on European politics and policy, Chinese economic reform and trends such as low yields and longevity and their impact on retirement planning. It added that he will not engage in any lobbying of the British government. He joins Rupert Harrison, his former economic adviser, who has been a strategist at BlackRock since 2015.
The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, a government body, has approved the job. As a backbencher Mr Osborne is paid £74,000 a year for doing his day job; as a cabinet minister he received nearly £70,000 more.
But the real take home message here is that some in the financial sector are betting, as they did with Hillary, that Osborne, who left office last July after six years at the Treasury after the stunning defeat of the Bremain campaign, will one day – perhaps soon – be back and in a very prominent position of power at that. Some who are already betting on his return are Countywide Developments, the property company, who donated £8,023 for him and a member of staff to travel by helicopter and car to the Ripon North Conservatives’ Summer Reception last July. Michael Bloomberg donated £4,087 for Mr Osborne to attend a dinner he organised in Paris last October.
As the FT adds, “in addition to his lucrative speaking and business engagements, the former chancellor is also spending time building the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a think-tank he launched late last year.”
Surprisingly, the biggest shadow backer of Osborne is none other than America’s foremost neocon and Trump nemesis, John McCain: this year Osborne became a Kissinger fellow on a US academic programme run by the McCain Institute, which is backed by Republican senator John McCain and provides the former chancellor with £120,212 to cover his costs.
Now if only Osborne were to open the Osborne Foundation next, the metamorphosis will be complete.