Finance directors in the money


Never mind about excessive pay packets for Britain's chief executives, it's finance directors who are really in the money at the moment, with salaries for the top performers rising by nearly a quarter in the past year.

Worries about "fat-cat" compensation may have led to a curbing of base salaries for chief executives, but in the stringent post-Enron regulatory climate and a booming M&A market, top-notch finance directors remain in high demand, with companies willing to pay through the nose to attract the best.

A study of 53 FTSE-100 companies by accountancy firm KPMG has found median compensation packages for finance directors rose by 22 per cent last year, against just three per cent for chief executives. In fact the rates of increase of base salaries of all board directors apart from finance directors in the upper quartile slowed in 2007, said KPMG.

Finance directors who switched into new positions, perhaps unsurprisingly, did the best overall, but premium pay increases were the norm rather than the exception, said KPMG.

Carl Sjostrom, partner in KPMG's performance and reward team, said: "The message from investors seems to be getting through as, although base salaries for FTSE-100 directors continue to rise, there is little evidence of it 'racing away'.

"Looking at total compensation packages, the trends amongst finance directors are intriguing: they seem to be commanding a premium," he added.

There were a number of reasons for FDs becoming increasingly valued, he suggested.

"This may be due to the M&A bonanza over the past year or so leading to finance directors taking a more strategic role on the board or it may be simply an element of 'catch up' in compensation levels," he said.

The KPMG study echoes figures published by consultancy Watson Wyatt in November last year.

These suggested that FDs rather than CEOs were pocketing the biggest percentage salary increases.

FDs saw a median increase of 9.4 per cent in 2006, against 8.4 per cent for all board directors of FTSE 100 companies, it calculated.