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Employers to reduce executive bonuses in 2013, says PwC survey


Many FTSE100 executives will see no increase to their annual bonuses this year and some bonuses could even be cut up to a quarter, according to a survey published today by professional services firm PwC.

The survey, which questioned heads of rewards, executive board members, remuneration committee chairmen and HR directors at 40 large UK companies, showed that fewer than 10% of those companies are expecting material increases to bonus pay-outs as remuneration committees plan to exercise restraint at upcoming AGMs.

Nearly half (48%) of respondents expect bonus pay-outs will be about the same as last year and 21% think they will be at least 10% lower and 17% predict they will fall by more than a quarter. This means 2013 will be the second successive year of bonus reductions.

The survey also found pay will be static for FTSE100 executives. Over a third (38%) of respondents said they were planning to freeze salaries for executive directors in 2013 - a figure not seen since the height of the financial crisis in 2009, PwC says.

However, despite remuneration committees being keen to demonstrate restraint, the survey suggests that there is unlikely to be a large drop in executive pay levels in the UK over the longer term. Only 15% of respondents said they expected total executive pay levels to be 10% lower in their organisation in three to five years time.

Tom Gosling, head of PwC's reward practice, said: "The calls from shareholders for pay and bonus restraint appear to have hit home. Following a number of years in which bonuses had crept up to around 80% of maximum pay on average; we expect them to fall back towards target levels of around 60% of pay this year.

"This will mark the second successive year of bonus reductions in the FTSE100."

He added: "There is no doubt that the intense shareholder, public and political focus on executive pay over the last 18 months has caused a change of approach.

"But the level of impact is still only modest and anyone hoping for a large-scale reduction in executive pay and bonus payouts in the long-term is likely to be disappointed. We expect executive pay to plateau for a period, rather than fall dramatically.

"In all of the debate around executive pay, perhaps most worrying is the impact on the image of the UK as a place to do business. Nearly two thirds of companies said the scrutiny on executive pay is making the UK an unattractive location for executives. The UK benefits hugely from the flow of talent to our shores, bringing with it investment, jobs and tax revenues and care must be taken not to damage our competitive position."