Stephen Hester, the chief executive of Britain's state-rescued Royal Bank of Scotland, said on Wednesday that he underestimated a row over his huge bonus and had considered resigning.
Hester bowed to public anger last month and waived his annual bonus of shares worth £963,000 ($1.5 million, 1.15 million euro) on top of his £1.2 million salary. He wrote to staff on Tuesday to explain his decision.
The vast bonus -- amid ongoing government austerity and economic gloom -- had sparked outrage among trade unions and opposition politicians because RBS is 82-percent state-owned after a massive bailout.
"I understand why these issues are controversial, particularly in a time of austerity ... and of course we underestimated that," Hester told BBC Radio 4.
"The spotlight RBS is in makes our job more difficult, and in turn makes it harder for what we have to do for the country, but we have to overcome that.
While he said he had "great sympathy and understanding" for people concerned about the high rewards in the banking industry, such "societal issues" were ultimately a matter for politicians.
"I took the judgment that it was going to be damaging for RBS to stay in the intensity of the spotlight that we had got into," he said, when asked about his decision to waive the bonus.
"In the end the job the job that I was asked to do, when RBS was collapsing, was about recovering this bank and helping it to succeed and that is what I really wanted to accomplish."
The RBS chief also revealed that he had considered resigning over the controversial issue.
There have been some deeply depressing moments -- not just now but over the last three years.
"In the end, I came to the conclusion that it would be actually indulgent for me to resign, and that what I ought to do was to draw on the reserves of strength I have and try and make RBS a success."
Hester added that the current management team was tasked with defusing a balance-sheet "time bomb".
"When I was asked to take on this job three years ago, I had to replace the whole senior management team of RBS.
"We had to go around the world looking for the best people. Not just people to run a bank well -- but people to defuse the biggest time bomb in history, in terms of bank balance sheets.
"Those people are doing a good job. I think they deserve recognition if they do a good job. It is our task to make sure there is a connection between the job that the people are doing and how they get treated."