Average chief executive officer pay at FTSE 100 organisations was £3.46m in 2018

Peter Cheese

The median annual pay for chief executive officers employed at the UK’s top 100 organisations as £3.46 million in 2018; this constituted a 13% decrease from 2017’s recorded median pay of £3.97 million, according to research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the High Pay Centre.

Executive pay in the FTSE 100: Is everyone getting a fair slice of the cake? was based on the information from annual reports for the financial year ending 2018. It found that the median chief executive officer salary for 2018 was more than 117 times that of the average UK full-time employee.

The mean pay ratio between FTSE 100 chief executive officers and the mean pay package of their staff was 114 to one in 2018. This is less than the pay ratios for 2017 and 2016, which were recorded at 144 to one and 130 to one, respectively.

Peter Cheese (pictured), chief executive officer at the CIPD, said: “Fairness is one of the biggest challenges facing society today. The gulf between the pay at the top and the bottom ends of [organisations] is slightly smaller this year, but it’s still unacceptably wide and undermines public trust in business.

“We need to challenge excessive pay, especially when too often it doesn’t match up to [organisational] performance. Boards, and remuneration committees in particular, need to review how they reward their top executives. They need to ask if it is fair when set against the overall reward strategy and practices of the organisation and if it is warranted in terms of performance. After all, success is the collective endeavor of the many, not just the few at the top. That point has never been more important in these times of significant uncertainty.”

The report found that 43 chief executive officers employed at FTSE 100 organisations received a pay increase between 2017 and 2018, with 84% of business leaders awarded payments from a long-term incentive plan; this forms the largest component of executive pay.

Furthermore, chief executive officers gain a pension contribution, or payment in lieu, worth 25% of their base salary. This compares to 8% for an average employee.

A total of £465.4 million was paid out to FTSE 100 chief executive officers in the financial year ending 2018; this equates to a mean annual pay package of £4.7 million, a reduction of 16% from last year.

In 2018, there were six female chief executive officers at FTSE 100 businesses, earning 4.2% of the total pay.

The 1,394 key management personnel, including chief executive officers, non-executive and executive board members and senior managers, employed at FTSE 100 organisations were paid a mean £1.56 million each, or a median of £1.09 million, in 2018. Per organisation, the mean total spend on this seniority level was £21.04 million, however pay varies considerably for these employees, ranging between £187,000 and £18.19 million.

Comparatively, median pay for chief executive officers at FTSE 250 organisations stood at £1.58 million for 2018, versus an equal £1.58 million in 2016 and £1.61 million in 2017.

Luke Hildyard, director at the High Pay Centre, added: “At a time when we’re struggling to generate economic growth, how pay is distributed between those at the top and everybody else becomes increasingly important. A slight fall in the pay of FTSE 100 [chief executive officers] is welcome, and reflects improvements to the governance of the UK’s biggest [organisations], and a growing recognition of the need to address the rampant economic inequality in the UK.

“At the same time, [chief executive officer] pay awards and the share of total incomes going to the very richest in society [remains] very high compared to the level of 20 years ago. There is still more to be done to align pay practices with the interests of wider society and give the public confidence that our biggest businesses are working for the good of the economy as a whole, rather than the enrichment of a few people at the top.”