Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Building societies can't justify fat cat pay rises

Sure we need strong expert leaders to run our mutual societies, but do they need to be paid so much?
Sure we need strong expert leaders to run our mutual societies, but do they need to be paid so much?

Reader Robin Waite writes in from Leeds with a request. "Can you give some publicity to the Skipton Building Society?" he asks. But not to praise it. Far from it. In fact Robin is angry at the pay increases enjoyed by chief executive David Cutter.

"His total remuneration soared from £617,000 in 2012 to £751,000 in 2013," Robin points out. That's an increase of 21.8%. "But on top of that," Robin continues, "he was awarded a further basic salary increase of 8.1% in 2014."

His anger is centred around the fact that the Skipton is a mutual, which means it is in business for the benefit of its members, not just to boost the pay packets of its bosses.

"What about the many savers and pensioners who find that the maximum rate of interest that they can get on a standard deposit account is just 1% gross?" Robin reasonably asks. "That's an all-time low and well below the rates of inflation.

"How on earth can this practice be called a mutual when we see so much greed at the top," he wants to know. It's a fair question. Are building society bosses paid too much?

The spotlight was shone on the Saffron last month after it was revealed that its chief executive Jon Hall had his total pay package boosted by 33% to £323,000 last year. Meanwhile over the same period, the Saffron made 84 cuts to savings rates.

But it's not just savers fed up with paltry returns who are angry. Anyone experiencing a pay freeze or laughable rises of between 1% and 2% will look on with a mixture of envy and amazement that the top people at building societies can justify such increases.

Others will question the wisdom of rewarding the bosses of so-called mutual building societies with massive pay increases on top of their already fat wage packets.

Sure we need strong expert leaders to run our mutual societies, but do they need to be paid so much? Next month it will be the turn of Graham Beale, the chief executive of the Nationwide.

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