IT’S A FAIR assumption that the average UK worker may not be cartwheeling with such unprecedented joy as the key beneficiaries in the latest Financial Director’s annual CFO salary survey.
According to the 2016 survey, finance chiefs at the biggest listed companies received an uplift of more than £600,000 in their total average pay to take them to £2.16m in the FTSE 100 – up from £1.45m last year – while those in the FTSE 250 secured a less seismic, but still impressive, £100,000-plus boost to £1.25m, nicely up from 2015’s £1.14m.
Such rises show that the UK’s top finance bosses have seen their personal fortunes more than double from the £975,038 average in 2009 for those in the FTSE 100 and £521,429 for those at the fiscal helm of the FTSE 250. Go back to 2003 and it has more than tripled from £682,979 and £387,865 respectively.
Cynics may balk at what the financial elite actually did to earn such Elysian returns, and could perhaps be forgiven for assuming the UK is hurtling towards a return to the huge Victorian disparities of wealth, a scenario best avoided for the sake of social cohesion – unless perhaps you are Donald Trump.
Already this year we discovered, courtesy of independent think tank the High Pay Centre, that the average FTSE 100 chief executive earnt more in the first two working days of 2016 than the average UK worker does all year. And that trend is deepening with the average UK employee experiencing the longest continual period of a significant fall in real wages between 2007-14 than at any time since 1865-7.
Untangling the Gordian ethics of the status quo is one for the moral philosophers, but more than 40 years after the Equal Pay Act came into force, gender wage disparity is still a pressing issue as the figures glaringly testify.
The top earners are almost exclusively male – and the most lucratively rewarded is Paul Richardson of WPP who pulled in £11.2m, followed by Sky’s Andrew Griffith at £8.86m and Lloyds Group’s George Culmer who enjoyed a bumper £5.8m swelling to his bank account.
Glyn Burger at Investec and Schroder’s Richard Keers both secured the most generous bonus in the land at £2.25m each, while HSBC Holdings’ Ian MacKay settled for a smidgen less at £1.99m.
The highest paid female finance chief – 3i’s Carol Fairweather – secured a total pay package of £3.55m, while Lucinda Bell of property giant British Land banked £3m.
While clearly some way off their best performing male counterparts, they were still well up on last year’s pay round with Fairweather nearly tripling her 2015 take of £1.22m.
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