Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tired of Banker’s Bonuses? It’s about time we all Have Our Say on High Pay!

"Over the past decade, while executive pay has grown by over 323%, the average UK earnings have grown by a mere 54%. Across the nation, ordinary workers have felt outraged by the continuing gap between the lowest and the highest paid earners but felt powerless to do anything. This growing inequality is particularly distasteful considering the current economic situation, with high unemployment and pension cuts creating hardship for many.

But how can we tackle this culture of excess? Vince Cable thinks that it is up to the shareholders of companies to hold the boardroom to account. However, despite the vast increases in bonuses and single performance incentives, not to mention “Golden Hellos” (a hefty sum paid to attract talent to the company), average levels of shareholder dissent have been stuck at around 9%, with outright defeat for these pay packages at annual general meetings remaining a rare spectacle.

We all have the power to influence these shareholders, who are mainly compromised of institutional investors. These anonymous ‘institutions’ are, among others, the pension funds and insurance companies who look after our retirement savings. In other words, the owners of corporate Britain are no longer a few rich individuals: they include anyone with pension savings, or around 11 million of us. This is our money!

The responsible investment charity FairPensions has launched ‘Your Say on HighPay’ at www.fairpensions.org.uk/highpay This online action tool will email your pension fund or ISA provider telling them you want them to vote against excessive pay – and asking them to let you know about it. 

Whether the ‘Shareholder Spring’ proves to be a one-season wonder or something more permanent may yet be up to us". (Great guest post by MM).
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