Investors call for continued restraint on executive pay and bonuses in the year ahead

Investment managers will expect companies to continue to show restraint and restrict executive bonuses where government support has been taken and not paid back during the year under review, the Investment Association’s annual pay guidelines set out today.

While the vast majority of companies have been sensitive to the experiences of their stakeholders, including employees and customers, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic when deciding pay and bonuses, investors will be watching to ensure this continues next year, as the country continues to recover from the pandemic.*

Writing to Chairs of FTSE 350 Remuneration Committees, the IA also informed companies that as ESG metrics are increasingly a factor in company strategy, these should flow through into determining executive pay and bonuses. These ESG metrics should be clearly linked to the company strategy. The rationale and robustness of ESG performance-related targets should also be made clear to investors. Companies with ESG risks and opportunities incorporated into their long-term strategies should have these similarly incorporated into their remuneration structures, and where they haven’t, should explain to investors how they will do this in future years.

Ensuring the alignment of executive pensions with the wider workforce will continue to be a priority for investment managers this year. Investment managers will expect to see a plan to align pension contributions for directors with the contribution levels of the wider workforce by the end of 2022, as part of wider efforts to ensure fairness and good employee relations. 90% of FTSE companies analysed have already met these ambitions.

Andrew Ninian, Director of Stewardship and Corporate Governance said:

“Since the start of the pandemic the vast majority of FTSE companies have sensitively balanced the need to incentivise senior executives while at the same time fairly reflecting the experiences of their wider workforces, their stakeholders, and their customers. However, as we recover from the pandemic, ensuring this approach is maintained will be critical for investors.

“With COP26 focusing minds ever more sharply on climate change, and more and more companies rightly linking executive pay and bonuses to ESG targets, investment managers will be watching closely to ensure these targets are both quantifiable, and linked to the company’s strategy.”

To support the planned alignment of pensions by 2022, this year, IVIS, the Institutional Voting Information Service will:

•            Red Top any new remuneration policy that does not explicitly state that any appointed executive director will have their pension contribution set in line with the majority of the workforce.

•            Red Top any remuneration report where executive pension contributions are not aligned to the majority of the workforce rate or there is not a credible action plan to align pension contributions for incumbent directors by the end of 2022.


*13% of the 83 FTSE companies analysed were colour topped by IVIS for their COVID response during the 2021 AGM season.

To view the letter sent to FTSE 350 companies: Rem Com Chair letter - Final.pdf (theia.org) 

To view the 2022 Principles of Remuneration: https://www.theia.org/sites/default/files/2021-11/Principles%20of%20Remuneration%202022%20-%20Final.pdf

For further information, please contact:

Katie Martin, Head of Communications: [email protected]

T: +44 (0)20 7269 4655

Camilla Esmund, Communications Executive: [email protected]

T: +44 (0)20 7269 4625

IA press office: [email protected]

T: 020 7269 4696

About the Investment Association (IA):

  • The IA champions UK investment management, supporting British savers, investors and businesses. Our 270 members manage £9.4 trillion of assets and the investment management industry supports 114,000 jobs across the UK.
  • Our mission is to make investment better. Better for clients, so they achieve their financial goals. Better for companies, so they get the capital they need to grow. And better for the economy, so everyone prospers.
  • Our purpose is to ensure investment managers are in the best possible position to:
    • Build people’s resilience to financial adversity
    • Help people achieve their financial aspirations
    • Enable people to maintain a decent standard of living as they grow older
    • Contribute to economic growth through the efficient allocation of capital.
  • The money our members manage is in a wide variety of investment vehicles including authorised investment funds, pension funds and stocks and shares ISAs.
  • The UK is the second largest investment management centre in the world, after the US and manages over a third (37%) of all assets managed in Europe.