May 4, 2012

First it was the professed amazement of all and sundry at the shocking revelation that MPs were bolstering their paltry salaries through a generously broad interpretation of the phrase legitimate expenses as a way of tiding them over until they quit politics for the lucrative pastures of consulting/public speaking. Now, it seems, the fact that top execs have been helping one another to vastly disproportionate remuneration packages for years has taken an entire nation by surprise.

Our newly impoverished politicians have started gingerly down the potentially fateful path of courting popular approval with born again denunciations of the obscene salaries paid to the so-called fat cats whose collective willingness to remain based somewhere vaguely taxable they dare not test too far.

Nor, shockingly, is the otherwise respectable world of insurance entirely immune to this newly discovered epidemic of obscene remuneration. Uvavu moss Andrew Boss this week moved to mitigate mutterings over his package by turning down a £46,000 pay rise. Coincidentally Bankstone News also turned down a £46,000 pay rise this year – by declining the option of taking up two full-time positions in nursing.

Moss’s selfless act of financial self-denial, eloquently supportive as it may be of the Cameron-Osborne ‘all in this together’ message, seems not to have fully quashed the carping of just-jealous side-line name-callers like the ‘institutional investor’ who, according to the excellent news report in Insurance Times of which the words you now read are merely a mangled misinterpretation, told the FT this week that (as with Bolton or Aston Villa) “no one supports Moss”.

Shareholders are apparently questioning the probity of Uvavu’s remuneration committee for handing Moss an 8.5% increase in total pay (excluding three million or so in share options) despite Uvavu having lost a quarter of its share value last year. According to Insurance Times, one such shareholder told the FT “In the context of concerns about the performance of the group and the executive team, why an earth did the remuneration committee propose such a rise for the CEO?” 

Why an earth? Bankstone News can think of no possible reason. Unless, of course, some of those on the remuneration committee are, in some capacity or other, in the business of getting remunerated themselves. Perhaps a committee made up of shareholders, random people off the street or – probably best – leading politicians could step in to take a fresh look at top exec’s pay.


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