Executive pay has been a contentious issue in recent years, with bankers’ bonuses stealing many headlines. Shareholders have been voicing their opinions on bonuses paid to top executives and the management teams at the banks in question are unlikely to be too pleased with the turn of events.
Nearly one third of shareholders from Credit Suisse opposed the bonuses that were set out to be paid to their executives; more than 50% of shareholders from Citigroup rejected the plan to pay their Chief Executive £9.2m for 2011 and, at the end of April, almost a third of shareholders at Barclays refused to support the bank’s pay awards. Barclay’s Chief Executive was to be paid £17.7m, but this revolt is just another indication of how the tide is turning against having to pay big bonuses to retain the best staff.
Bonuses are essentially there to reward good performance. For example, if a company or bank achieves higher than expected profits, you may support a bonus for the key individuals who achieved this. However, in the case of Barclays, the £17.7m package for the Chief Executive was to be paid, despite him saying that his bank’s performance in 2011 was ‘unacceptable’. I wonder what bonus might have been suggested had the performance been ‘acceptable’?
Revolts over big bonuses are not a new thing for 2012. Over the past few years, more and more resentment has been growing for the huge pay increases received by top managers. Many big companies around the world have seen shareholder revolts and this could mean the tide is beginning to turn on big bonuses. The following articles consider this contentious issue.
Credit Suisse and Barclays investors revolt over pay Reuters, Matt Scuffham and Katharina Bart (27/4/12)
Aviva rocked by shareholder rebellion over pay Guardian, Jill Treanor and Julia Kollewe (3/5/12)
Tide turns on bank bonuses as revolt hits UK Scotsman, Bill Jamieson and Tom Peterkin (28/4/12)
Barclays AGM: ‘We can’t pay zero bonuses, the consequences would be dire’ Telegraph, Harry Wilson (27/4/12)
Barclays shareholders have spoken. The overpaid must listen Guardian, Chuka Umunna (27/4/12)
Barclays suffers executive pay backlash Financial Times, Patrick Jenkins (27/4/12)
Aviva to review pay policy amid investor concerns Wall Street Journal, Jessica Hodgson and Vladimir Guevarra (30/4/12)
UBS faces shareholder opposition over executive pay New York Times, Julia Werdigier (3/5/12)
Low returns stir Europe-wide revolt on bankers’ pay Reuters, Steve Slater and Sinead Cruise (25/4/12)
Barclays targeted over bonuses Telegraph, Louise Peacock (9/4/12)
UBS gets stinging rebuke from shareholders on pay Reuters, Katharina Bart (3/5/12)
Vince Cable urges investors to keep up the pressure on executive pay Guardian, Jill Treanor (4/5/12)
- To what extent do you think high bonuses are the most important variable to a company in retaining the best staff?
- In The Telegraph article by Harry Wilson, Barclays’ Chairman is quoted as saying: ‘We can’t pay zero bonuses, the consequences would be dire’. What would be the consequences if Barclays did pay zero bonuses?
- What would be the consequence if all UK firms paid zero bonuses?
- How would smaller bonuses affect shareholder dividends?
- The Guardian article by Chuka Umunna says that ‘excessive pay and rewards for failure are bad for shareholders, the economy and society.’ Why is this?
- Should those receiving big bonuses be forced to give them up, if their company has under-performed?
- What are the main arguments for and against paying out big bonuses?