HSBC paid 453 staff €1m (£780,000) or more in 2015 – up from 320 a year earlier – as it warned it faced a bumpy economic backdrop.
The disclosure was made on Monday as the bank reported a 1% rise in profits and a cut in the pay of chief executive, Stuart Gulliver, from £7.6m to £7.3m.
Robin Hood Tax campaigners lobbying for what they argue is fairer taxation of the financial sector criticised the payouts. “It may have been a bumpy year for HSBC, but that hasn’t stopped the flow of bumper payouts. Many more millionaires made and £7.3m for the chief executive is hardly the picture of a reformed financial sector,” the group said.
“The banking sector is still completely out of sync with the rest of the economy. It’s in everyone’s interest that the UK has a more level playing field. The chancellor should take note.”
The pay of non-executive directors – almost all of whom receive more than £100,000 – was disclosed. Rona Fairhead – who chaired HSBC’s audit committee at the time of the tax scandal in its Swiss arm – is the highest paid non-executive, receiving £524,000, up from £513,000. Chair of the BBC Trust, Fairhead is leaving the HSBC board this year.
Jonathan Symonds, former finance director of Novartis who chairs HSBC’s European arm, received £521,000. Phillip Ameen, who chairs the audit committee and is member of the risk committee of the bank’s US arm, received £416,000.
A former director, Sandy Flockhart, who left in April 2012, also received £155,503 because of double taxation he incurred in Hong Kong and the UK.
The bank is preparing to ask shareholders to approve a policy for its top management to incorporate a closer link to shareholder returns in the bonuses paid out through the three-year long-term incentive plan.
Under new scheme rules, Gulliver’s possible potential annual pay is being cut to £9.9m from up to £13m in the past. The minimum amount he can receive will be £3.3m, down from £3.5m, which includes a £1.25m salary, £1.7m fixed-pay allowance intended to shelter him from the EU cap on bonuses and a £625,000 pension contribution.
That contribution is being cut from 50% of his salary to 30% in response to investor concerns. Gulliver also received £662,000 in benefits to cover the cost of living in a property owned by the bank in Hong Kong.
The bank said the introduction of UK rules that require bonuses to be deferred over seven years, rather than three, were more stringent than those in the EU, US and Asia-Pacific, “making it challenging for UK banks to attract talent with transferable skills or from other industries”.
“We believe more regulator coordination is required to ensure there are more globally consistent remuneration standards and a level playing field,” HSBC said.
This article was written by Jill Treanor, for theguardian.com on Monday 22nd February 2016 16.35 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010