Share­hold­ers curb pay for top bosses at 30 big­gest listed firms

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Si­mon Foy

FEARS of a huge in­vestor back­lash kept bosses’ pay in check at the 30 big­gest Lon­don-listed com­pa­nies last year, with chief ex­ec­u­tives handed an av­er­age £400,000 less than in 2018.

Pay across the FTSE 30 fell by more than 7pc to £5.9m in 2019, ac­cord­ing to Deloitte’s an­nual re­port on ex­ec­u­tive re­mu­ner­a­tion, fol­low­ing years of pres­sure from large share­hold­ers over cor­po­rate ex­cess.

Across the wider FTSE 100, top ex­ec­u­tives’ pay pack­ets re­mained rose from £3.5m to £3.7m.

The re­port found that firms were able to keep in­vestors hap­pier than in 2018. Only eight FTSE 100 com­pa­nies suf­fered a re­bel­lion by more than 10pc of in­vestors over their pay re­port at an­nual meet­ings, down from 23 firms the pre­vi­ous year.

Fi­nance chiefs at blue-chip firms also took a cut, with av­er­age pay down 12pc to £1.9m in 2019.

Deloitte said the in­creased share­holder sup­port re­flected sig­nif­i­cant cuts to bosses’ pen­sion pay­ments, af­ter fury at spe­cial re­tire­ment deals that gave them a higher per­cent­age of their an­nual salaries than or­di­nary staff.

Stephen Cahill, of Deloitte, said: “Pen­sions have been the hot topic of the an­nual gen­eral meet­ing sea­son, and are an ex­am­ple of the grow­ing in­vestor fo­cus on pay fair­ness across the en­tire work­force.

“While it has been a qui­eter AGM sea­son, share­hold­ers have demon­strated that they will hit hard where com­pa­nies fall foul of ex­pec­ta­tions in this area.”

The fall­out from the pan­demic is ex­pected to af­fect pay plans this year, ac­cord­ing to Deloitte.

More than half of FTSE 100 com­pa­nies have cut pay dur­ing the cri­sis, of­ten us­ing tem­po­rary salary re­duc­tions.

Mr Cahill added: “In the year ahead, ex­ec­u­tive pay will be un­der in­tense scru­tiny to en­sure that ex­ec­u­tives are not in­su­lated from the wider eco­nomic and so­cial im­pact of Covid-19.”

A sep­a­rate sur­vey by PwC found that al­most nine in 10 UK chief ex­ec­u­tives ex­pect the pan­demic to prompt a per­ma­nent shift to­wards re­mote work­ing.

Three quar­ters be­lieve Covid-19 has sped up the move from tra­di­tional hu­man labour to au­to­ma­tion.

Kevin El­lis, chair­man and se­nior part­ner at PwC UK, said: “While a large ma­jor­ity of UK and global CEOs be­lieve Covid-19 has ac­cel­er­ated a long-term shift to more re­mote work­ing, a blend of of­fice and home work­ing is most likely to be the fu­ture norm. There are many ben­e­fits of peo­ple com­ing to­gether face to face, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to learn­ing and in­no­va­tion.”

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