Pay ratios of CEOs in the UK are higher than in any other European country, a study has revealed.
The research, from Vlerick Business School’s Executive Remuneration Research Centre, reveals that UK chief executives earned 94 times the income of their average employee, compared with 91 in France and 89 in Germany.
As big as those ratios are, the survey also showed that the ratio is 71 in the Netherlands and only 40 among Sweden’s largest companies.
The study concluded: “Generally, we can state that the pay ratio in the UK is significantly higher than in continental Europe.”
The study looked at pay from 2014 to 2016 across Europe.
Vlerick Business School found that 59% of CEOs saw an increase in pay over the three years targeted in the research.
“This increase is the greatest in the largest listed companies,” said the report. “In the AEX (largest Dutch stock market index), the increase amounted to 20% and, in the DAX (largest German listed companies), it was 30%.
“In total, the remuneration of 26% of the CEOs decreased, and it is notable that, in Dutch companies, more CEOs have clearly seen their remuneration decline (AEX: 39%; AMX: 25%; AScX [derived from the Amsterdam Small Cap Index]: 50%).”
Pay increases have resulted from bonuses, the report concluded, not base salaries.
“If we look at the underlying remuneration components, it is striking that fixed remuneration has remained almost constant and that the increases can mainly be attributed to an increase in the bonus, and in particular to so-called long-term incentives (e.g. share-related remuneration),” said Vlerick.
Meanwhile, Vlerick said the biggest result from the survey is that better-performing companies do not pay their CEOs better. Looking at companies with a high performance over a seven-year period, Vlerick concluded that CEO pay is “relatively lower”; variable remuneration is relatively lower and there is less “leverage” in the bonus, the gap between target and maximum bonus.
Vlerick also found that pay ratios are lower in this group of companies.