Interactive Investor

What do you think about this finance chief’s 20% pay rise?

12th September 2022 11:07

Graeme Evans from interactive investor

More companies give shareholders the chance to say what they think about the business and its behaviour.

A 20% rise in pay to £335,000 will be among the remuneration details for Wise (LSE:WISE) shareholders to digest ahead of the money transfer company’s first AGM later this month.

Wise says the big increase for finance boss Matthew Briers is a first step in its transition to salaries more in line with its market peers, having previously awarded executives shares-driven compensation packages as a private company.

Briers is also due to be granted a long-term incentive award of up to 650% of salary, which is subject to performance measures over a three-year period. The company, which does not pay an annual bonus, has the support of voting advisory firm Glass Lewis.

In other AGMs, van hire and automotive services business Redde Northgate (LSE:REDD) looks set to avoid a repeat of last year’s big vote against its remuneration report. It has repaid furlough monies received in the 2022 financial year, unlike in 2021 when executive directors still got bonuses.

Redde Northgate

When: 10.30am, Tuesday 27 September.

Where: Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Governor’s House, 5 Laurence Pountney Hill, EC4R 0BR.

How to participate: Proxy voting can be done through www.signalshares.com, with the deadline for doing so being 10.30am on Monday, 23 September. More AGM details can be found here

Who’s in the chair? Avril Palmer-Baunuck was appointed to the board in August 2019 and is executive chair of the WeBuyAnyCar and Cinch business Constellation Automotive Group.

How did the company do in the year to 30 April? The van rental and automotive services business, which was created from a merger in February 2020, grew revenues 12% to £1.24 billion. Pre-tax profits almost doubled to £132.7 million and earnings per share rose 55% to 41.3p. A final dividend of 15p a share is due to be paid on 30 September, meaning the total for the year increased by 36% to 21p a share. 

How have shares performed? Up 9% at 397p (320p on Thursday).

How much is the boss paid? Martin Ward’s salary has been increased by 3%, in line with the rise for the wider workforce, to £609,348. His total remuneration for 2021/22 came to £1.44 million, which included £740,000 in cash and shares after the annual bonus scheme awarded 100% of the maximum opportunity based primarily on a pre-tax profit target with the remaining 25% on strategic objectives.

How did last year’s AGM go? The annual remuneration report was approved, but with 37.64% of votes going against the company amid discontent over the company’s decision to award executive directors their bonuses but not to repay the furlough monies the company received in 2021. Ward was paid £1.2 million in 2021, including a bonus of £580,000. This year the company has repaid furlough monies received in relation to the 2022 financial year.

What’s the view of voting agencies? Glass Lewis believes shareholders can be satisfied with the company’s response to last year’s dissent, recommending that they should vote in favour of this year’s remuneration report.

How’s the company doing on diversity? The gender split on the board is 29% female, with 23% for the senior management team and 33% for all employees. The board’s ethnic diversity is in line with the recommendations of the Parker Review.

Wise

When: 11am, Friday 23 September.

Where: 3rd Floor, Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JJ.

How to participate: A live videocast will be available. Questions can be submitted in advance to agm@wise.com, with the deadline for proxy voting instructions being 11am, Wednesday 21 September. More AGM details can be found here.

Who’s in the chair? David Wells is the former chief financial officer of Netflix.

How did the company do in the year to 31 March? In its first year as a public company, the money transfer business lifted revenues by 33% to £559.9 million and pre-tax profits rose by 7% to £43.9 million. It processed £76.4 billion in cross-border payments in the year, which was a 40% increase over the prior year after helping over seven million personal customers and 410,000 business customers.

How have shares performed? Down 38% since its listing in July to 495p (512.6p on Thursday).

How much is the boss paid? Kristo Käärmann, who owns 18% of the company, receives an unchanged base salary of £197,000. He is not involved in the annual bonus scheme or the long-term incentive plan. 

And the finance boss? The salary of Matthew Briers has increased 20% to £335,000, part of an adjustment towards market aligned pay. Under previous arrangements as a private company, executive directors were granted shares as part of their total compensation and salaries were low by market standards. The former Google UK executive, who joined Wise in 2015, is not part of the annual bonus scheme but a long-term incentive award of up to 650% of salary will be made in 2023 and subject to performance measures over a three-year period.

What’s the view of voting agencies? Glass Lewis would rather see smaller incremental increases for Briers, but acknowledges the current salary is low against company peers. The maximum incentive cap of 650% of salary is higher, but the agency’s concerns are mitigated by Wise’s pledge to reduce this to 500% in the event of an annual bonus. Glass Lewis recommends support for the annual remuneration report and the binding vote on the remuneration policy, which is being put before shareholders for the first time. 

How’s the company doing on diversity? The gender split on the board is 37.5% female, with the figure for senior management at 25%.

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