Curbing chief executive pay

The increase in top executive pay rates in recent years has been very striking.

At the start of the last decade most company chief executives would be lucky to earn a six figure sum - a few hundred thousand dollars.

By the end of the decade seven figures was more like the norm - a million dollars plus - and it wasn't unusual for the very lucky (or should that be very highly skilled?) CEOs to command eight figure annual rewards.

Then came the financial crash. Company values and profits collapsed and suddenly shareholders started taking a much closer interest in how much top people are paid.

So can soaring CEO pay be curbed? We invited Tim Bush and Mark Pettman to discuss that question. Tim Bush is head of Governance and Financial Analysis at PIRC, the independent research group that advises pension funds and other major shareholders, and Mark Pettman runs the headhunting firm Search & Selection which specialises in recruiting top managers.

To kick things off Justin Rowlatt asked Mark Pettman if he wasn't part of the problem, bidding up wages for the people his company finds.

Executive pay is in the news in part because of the shareholder revolts at the banking giants Citigroup and Barclays in the last two weeks.

So how are shareholders supposed to assess the worth of a CEO? What do chief executives of big companies actually do?

That's something that has been preoccupying the management writer and author, Tom Lloyd - so much so he's written a book on the subject.

Many employees reckon running a top company is just one long liquid lunch followed a round of golf. Justin Rowlatt wanted to know if he thought there was any truth in that.

Plus - We may all think we could run a big company but most employers would like us to demonstrate a bit of experience before we take the helm, which is why how you describe your achievments is so important.

So what is the best way of portraying yourself at a conference or company dinner?

It may be tempting to provide a comprehensive liteny of professional accomplishments - but is that the best strategy?

Is one single terse sentence better? And what does your autobiographic method say about you?

Who better to judge than our regular commentator Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times?

Available now

18 minutes

Last on

Mon 30 Apr 2012 11:32 GMT

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