Average FTSE 100 chief executive pay falls to £4.5m

Peter Cheese

Chief executive officers (CEOs) who work for the UK’s top 100 organisations receive an average annual pay package of £4.5 million a year, according to research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the High Pay Centre.

The Review of FTSE 100 executive pay packages report, which analysed the executive pay of FTSE 100 CEOs at March 2017 based on information from organisations’ annual reports for the financial year ending 2016, also found that male CEOs earn an average of £4.7 million a year, compared to an average of £2.6 million for female CEOs.

The research also found:

  • FTSE 100 CEO pay fell by 17% between 2015 and 2016, decreasing from £5.4 million to £4.5 million.
  • Median pay for FTSE 100 CEOs is £3.45 million.
  • The average pay ratio between FTSE 100 CEOs and their employees was 129:1 in 2016, compared to 148:1 for 2015.
  • The average pay package for the 25 highest-paid FTSE 100 CEOs was £9.4 million in 2016.
  • An average full-time UK employee earning £28,000 a year would need to work for 160 years to earn what an average FTSE 100 CEO could earn in a year, and 60 of the FTSE 100 CEOs earn more than 100 times the UK average salary.
  • 20% of FTSE 100 chief executive officers’ total remuneration is represented by base salary, 6% by pensions, and 25% by bonuses or short-term incentives. Benefits represent 2% of total pay, which amounts to £91,000 per CEO on average.
  • Women make up 6% of FTSE 100 CEOs, and they earn 4% of the total pay.
  • The top 10 highest-paid CEOS in 2016 were from WPP, Carnival, Reckitt Benckiser Group, AstraZeneca, RELX, BP, CRH, British American Tobacco, Shire, and Royal Dutch Shell.

Peter Cheese (pictured), chief executive officer at the CIPD, said: “We have to hope that the reversal in rising executive pay is the beginning of a re-think on how CEOs are rewarded, rather than a short-term reaction to political pressure. The fall in executive pay is a step in the right direction, but it’s still happening within an overall reward system where average wages in the UK have been flat. Our analysis also shows a clear gender pay disparity at the top, with female CEOs receiving less than their male peers. Quite rightly this issue of fairness is increasingly being called out and this needs to be addressed at all levels of businesses.

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“Rather than focusing predominantly on share price or short-term profit, we need a much more balanced scorecard for performance that also takes account of other indicators of success such as investment in people, social responsibility and accountability, and long-term value creation. High pay must be addressed as part of the much broader review of UK corporate governance.” 

Stefan Stern, director at the High Pay Centre, added: “We have finally seen a fall in executive pay this year, in the context of political pressure and in the spotlight of hostile public opinion. This is welcome, but the response has been limited and very late. It is also, so far, a one-off. We need to see continued efforts to restrain and reverse excess at the top. And we should beware the ratcheting up of pay lower down the FTSE league table as CEOs and remuneration committees ‘chase the median’. This helps nobody but a few lucky top execs”.