Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Sticking two fingers up over executive pay

Tom (as usual) making some good points about controlling Executive pay.  Picture of a City Banker taunting NHS doctors and nurses with a £10 note as they passed Deutsche Bank
while on a demonstration earlier this year.

"...One of the great achievements on the New Right was atomisation, so people at work think more in individual terms, and less in a collective sense. I don't mean this in any kind of conspiratorial sense - people on the Right believe this is how people should think - but it's an achievement they don't want to lose.....

There is some ground opening up here for Labour as many in the party would be actively enthusiastic about employee involvement in (remuneration committees), so this could become a bit of a wedge issue, at least in my little corner of the world. Although asset managers and the investor representative bodies won't like it, there is definite interest in the idea that is starting to bubble up.

More generally there is also a sense that patience is running out. There are only so many times you can call on the executive class to exercise restraint and they stick two fingers up. There are only so many times you can urge asset managers to take a tougher line and they shrug their shoulder and say there's nothing much they can do about it. Of course we've been through all this before, and nothing has changed, so therefore shouldn't we just expect it to carry on? Well, maybe, but it was a former FTSE chief exec who said in a conversation recently that the position of executives taking ever more out of companies as their reward was analogous to the position of the unions in the 70s. People moaned for a long time about TU power before anything happened, but when change came it was very significant.

I now think that we could see some fairly radical reform in respect of executive pay, whether it happens under the Coalition or the next Labour govt in 2015 ;-) I suspect it will go significantly further than the policy positions adopted by most of the 'professional' governance bodies because most of them are still stuck parroting the disclosure+shareholder empowerment model (which hasn't worked very well). There has been an opportunity since the crisis to think very differently, our sector hasn't really done that. Don't be surprised if what we thought were the ground rules of the exec pay debate get overtaken by events".   

Check out full post here on Labour and Capital here
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