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UK local government funds criticise Barclays over executive pay

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  • Westminster, London

The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) has said it will vote against Barclay’s executive remuneration plan at today’s annual general meeting (AGM), while attacking its decision for Sir John Sunderland to lead the selection of the bank’s new chairman.

The forum, a shareholder voting group for 60 local authority funds with more than £120bn (€146bn) in assets, said it believed institutional shareholder pressure was the only meaningful way to spur change at the bank.

Sunderland is currently non-executive director at the bank, and former head of the remuneration committee, which came under severe criticism from shareholders for excessive pay.

Councillor Kieran Quinn, who chairs the forum, said: “Sir John Sunderland has fortunately recognised it is inappropriate for him to serve as chair of the remuneration committee, but how can it be appropriate for him to lead the selection of Barclay’s new chair?

“It appears that a continuing series of no votes by institutional shareholders is one of the few options open for meaningful engagement at Barclays.”

The re-election of Sunderland and planned remuneration are two of the bank’s proposals expected to be rejected by the Forum and fellow institutions at today’s AGM.

Pensions & Investment Research Consultants (PIRC), a proxy-voting service, has advised its members to follow suit.

Standard Life Investments (SLI), asset manager and institutional shareholder, also denounced the bank’s remuneration policy.

Owning 1.92% of the bank on behalf of its clients, SLI said it did not take the decision to reject the remuneration report lightly.

Alison Kennedy, stewardship director at the manager, said: “We appreciate there were competitive pressures. Nevertheless, we are unconvinced the amount of the 2013 bonus pool was in the best interests of shareholders.

“The board has stated its intention of reducing the compensation to net income ratio over the medium term. We support this intention, and it is important that, over time, the board demonstrates convincingly this will be achieved.”

A spokesman for the LAPFF added that, while Barclays was a high-profile example, it was the tip of the iceberg for the problems in the financial sector.

“The LAPFF has a long history of raising governance concerns at Barclays and at banks in general, going back to the LIBOR scandal, executive remuneration and accounting standards,” he said.

“It is clear Barclays is the tip of the iceberg of dissatisfaction from pension funds.”

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