It's not just RBS: the UK government's intervening in most banks' bonus pools

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As everyone will now know, the bonus pool at RBS is in the hands of the British government.

Predictably, RBS bankers are unhappy. According to the Times they are (still) leaving in droves.

However, RBS may be mollified by the thought that, through the FSA, the British government is taking a keen interest in the dimensions of the bonus pools at most other banks too.

According to a headhunter (who requested that he remain anonymous), the FSA has been ruffling feathers at a Japanese bank, for example. "They've been coming to bonus meetings and trying to muscle in," he says.

The FSA didn't return calls asking for comment.

Jon Terry, head of reward at PriceWaterhousecoopers, confirms that the FSA is indeed taking an active interest in the size of the bonus pool at the 26 organisations it mentioned in its code of practice on remuneration policies.

"The FSA have said that they need to scrutinise bonus pools prior to them being signed off by the company," says Terry. "They're not interested in the allocation of bonuses, but in the overall size of the bonus pool relative to the amount of regulatory capital a bank has.

"My understanding is that they started looking into this last week," Terry adds.

No one knows which 26 banking organisations the FSA is scrutinising. In its code of practice it named no names and simply said would be taking an interest in organisations with more than 1bn in regulatory capital. Most well known investment banks are likely to be included.

"The implication is that if bonus pools at these organisations are too large, the FSA will come down on them," says Terry.

RBS bankers are not alone.

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