Non-executive director pay rises slow down for third consecutive year

Pay rises for non-executive directors (NEDs) have slowed for the third year in a row, a review has found.

The annual Non-Executive Director Practice and Fees guide by professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has found NEDs’ salaries had grown by just 15.6%, compared with 16.7% in 2007 and 25.0% in 2006.

It also found the average amount of time a non-executive director devotes to the company business has risen to 21 days, up from 20 days in 2007 and 15 days in 2003.

“The rate of fee increases is levelling off as non-executive directors and the boards that employ are working harder to balance fees with the responsibilities that come with the role,” said Sean O’Hare, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

“We’re seeing much more emphasis on reviewing fee structures and levels – over half of the companies we surveyed had carried out a review during the last 12 months. Historically, non-executive directors’ fees were reviewed every three years so this increasing frequency signals a significant shift.”

In companies with revenues more than £500m, almost two-thirds (62%) had executives serving on other companies’ boards. Over half for companies with revenues of less than £500m had no executives serving on another companies’ board and were less likely to encourage executives to accept a non-executive appointment.

“As fee increases become more moderate we can expect more focus by institutional shareholders on the disclosure of the NEDs’ effectiveness rather than merely what they earn,” said O’Hare.

More than 150 companies provided information for the survey, including 31 from the FTSE 100 and 37 from the FTSE 250.

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