President Barack Obama criticized the bonus-driven culture of financial trading desks at Wall Street banks as a risk to the stability of the financial system.

In an interview to be aired today on American Public Media’s Marketplace radio program, Obama said an “unfinished piece of business” is to address banks that “take big risks because the profit incentive and the bonus incentive is there for them.”

The problem is “going to require us looking at additional steps we can take,” Obama said, without specifying what those might be.

If Obama follows through, it would add to pressure on banks that have already cut or reassigned scores of traders, driving many to join hedge funds ahead of a Dodd-Frank Act measure seeking to rein in risky bets. The regulation, known as the Volcker Rule, after former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker, will restrict the once-lucrative business of speculating for the accounts of the nation’s biggest lenders.

The rule will cap ownership stakes in hedge funds and private-equity funds, and curb short-term wagers, in which traders seek to generate profit for their banks by anticipating market moves or capturing price differences. It doesn’t limit most longer-term investments. The measure is supposed to let bank traders continue facilitating orders for clients.

$164,530 Average

Wall Street employees took home an average bonus of $164,530 last year, the most since the 2008 financial crisis and the third highest on record, according to estimates released in March by New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. While the collective bonus pool rose 15 percent to $26.7 billion in 2013, the increase was fueled by compensation deferred from prior years. Delaying payouts is meant to discourage employees from trying to reap quick payouts by taking risks that can hurt their firm in the future.

Obama said banks need to change “how they work internally” to alter incentives for traders.

“Right now, if you are in one of the big banks, the profit center is the trading desk, and you can generate a huge amount of bonuses by making some big bets,” Obama said. In the event of “a really bad bet,” he added, “you might end up leaving the shop, but in the meantime everybody else is left holding the bag.”

Obama said the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulatory law that his administration backed has reduced the risk by requiring banks to hold more capital as a cushion against a financial institution triggering a broader crisis. It also reduces the risk to taxpayers, he said.

Still, he said, he has told his economic team that the administration should take steps “to continue to see how can we rebalance the economy sensibly, so that we have a banking system that is doing what it is supposed to be doing to grow the real economy.”