The Mail on Sunday
Fury erupts over pay package of £468,000
THERE was a big turnout at Leeds Building Society’s AGM at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the city on Tuesday and executive pay was high on the agenda.
Many members berated chief executive Ian Ward for his 11 per cent pay rise, which took his total remuneration to £468,000 last year, including a £127,000 ‘performance’ bonus.
The society, as its chairman made clear, had performed well, increasing profits by 56 per cent to £31.7 million, but to many this was no justification for bumper executive payouts.
Tony Spice, a retired human resources consultant from Leeds, voted against the board’s pay. He acknowledged that the society had done a ‘reasonable job’ in difficult times, but said: ‘Most people are feeling the pinch with job losses and pay cuts.
‘Pensioners have seen their savings rates slashed. The Leeds board should not be surprised if their pay awards cause feelings to run so high.’
Michael Hydes, 65, a retired taxi driver from Bramley, Leeds, said he would like to have seen the board forgo all bonuses.
‘When I looked at the board’s pay I was shocked by the numbers,’ he said. ‘That’s a lot for anyone to earn. Things may be improving in the economy, but I feel the recession is far from over. The Leeds board really should look again at their pay and bonuses.’ Defending Ward’s remuneration, chairman Robin Smith said: ‘Our financial results don’t happen by accident. We’ve done well at a time when other mutuals are losing money.’
Yet almost ten per cent of members who voted ahead of the AGM were against the board’s pay. The society had a record vote turnout of 21 per cent of its 460,000 eligible voting members.
Not all societies face a rough time at their AGMs. At Ipswich Building Society’s 160th annual meeting on March 24, the consensus among members seemed to be that chief executive Paul Winter deserved his modest £6,000 salary increase in 2009, which took his pay to £142,000.
The society, which has 65,000 members, £462 million of assets and nine branches in Suffolk, made a decision not to award executive bonuses last year.
Retired teacher and probation officer Dorothy Zagni, 75, from Ipswich, who was at the meeting with her husband Peter, 75, also a retired teacher, voted in favour of the directors’ pay.
‘At a time when we’re seeing the controversy in the Press about fat cat pay and bankers’ bonuses it is refreshing to see some institutions still have integrity,’ she said.
‘Ipswich has been well managed, but the board obviously feels it isn’t in the spirit of the day to be seen to be taking bonuses. I applaud that.’