Exec pay soars 1,200% since 1987

Fat cat payRoll back to 1987 and the average annual salary for a chief exec of a FTSE 100 listed company was £150,000. Fast forward to 2009 and this figure rises to £4m, claims new research.

It's all the more shocking given the generally grim stock market returns of the last decade - yet management continues, it seems, to suck money out of companies regardless. Is this behaviour likely to change?


Lemmings

Like most herd-behaviour, says Professor Annie Pye of Leadership Studies at the University of Exeter Business School, "it will be slow and hard to change not least because it's in no one's interest to change." If you're at the top, that is (though shareholders will likely feel differently).

Professor Pye makes the point that the link between exec pay and performance "remains opaque and throws into question the need and use of performance management systems for 'incentivising' executives."

Incentives for 'performance management'? Look no further than Barclays. Top exec John Varley earned £4.36m last year, a rate almost 170 times the earnings of the average UK worker.

PRP for all

But what about Barclays share price? Since 2007 when it hit 790p, Barclays shares have steadily slipped over time to... 185p! A massive drop. In 2010 when Varley earned £4.36m, Barclays share price commenced the year at 320p but ended at 261p.

What is needed, then, is some kind of closer alignment between performance and pay. Yet because the fund managers who control much of the shares are also over-paid, no-one wants to shout too loudly about the problem.

Also, when performance-related pay has attempted to be foisted on fund managers before, the benchmark is too often set too low, and a base fee is still grabbed.

What about, then, forcing fund managers to actually turn up to AGMs and represent all shareholder interests - including re-instating long-term performance related pay, for all?
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