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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

FTSE 100 firms cut pension contributions for directors

Four in 10 of the UK’s 100 largest listed firms have cut pension contributions for directors this year, according to research from Willis Towers Watson (WTW).

Pensions cut for FTSE 100 executives ©Shutterstock
Pensions cut for FTSE 100 executives ©Shutterstock

The researchers also found that pension contributions for CEOs decreased from 25% of salaries to 20% between 2018 and 2019 at FTSE 100 companies.

Moreover, around three in 10 firms reduced pension provisions for new hires, with median contributions dropping from 25% of salaries to 12% over the same period.

The findings come amid growing pressure from shareholders and regulators on companies to close the gap between pensions awarded to executives and the rest of the workforce.

“A significant number of companies have cut payments to executive pension pots as part of a wider strategy aimed at moving towards better alignment with the workforce,” WTW GB executive compensation practice leader, Jessica Norton, said.

“Increasing scrutiny by the governance community of pensions marks the latest stage in the ongoing debate surrounding the appropriateness of executive pay that has been simmering since the financial crisis.”

The research tracked changes to executive remuneration during the 2019 annual general meeting (AGM) season.

As well as reductions to directors’ pensions, it was found that companies which award above inflationary salary increases without clear communication continue to receive push back.

There has also been an increase in scrutiny around incentive targets over recent years, and more companies making changes as a direct response to shareholder feedback.

Shareholder backing at AGMs remains high, with median support for both the annual remuneration and policy broadly unchanged at 96% and 97% respectively.

“The research does, however, reveal that approximately 30% of companies receive a vote of less than 90% support for remuneration-related resolutions,” WTW said.

“A marked increase compared to 20% in 2018. The proportion of companies receiving less than 80% has remained broadly stable year-on-year.”

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