LONDON - Company executives in Europe are enjoying above-inflation rises to their overall remuneration thanks to long-term incentive packages, a study published here late Monday showed.
They enjoyed average overall pay rises of 6.9 per cent in 2012, above average base salary rises of 2.5 per cent which was just under the region's annual inflation rate, according to a study by global management consultancy Hay Group.
"This overall rise of total direct compensation was because more companies introduced long-term incentive (LTI) plans while also increasing the value of such plans," it said.
Following the global financial crisis, the banking sector and other industries have come under pressure from governments and shareholders to link executive pay to long-term performance.
This has led for example to bonuses being cut or delayed and for extra payouts to be in the form of shares rather than cash.
Hay Group added that while pay rises for chief executives remained muted, there was a "significant increase" in the remuneration of other senior executive roles.
Spain and Switzerland topped the league of highest paying countries, whilst Nordic nations were the most restrained in 2012.
The pharmaceutical sector meanwhile continued to pay the most, while the greatest increases in 'total cash' (salary plus short-term incentives) were found in the insurance and utility sectors.
"In banking, total cash fell significantly below the overall average," Hay Group said.
The average total direct compensation for chief executives stood at just over 3.0 million euros (S$5.142 million). The average for other executive roles was about 1.5 million euros.
The latest Hay Group annual study, Top Executive Compensation in Europe 2013, looked at data from more than 1,500 senior-level executives in 21 countries working for 332 of the Financial Times Europe 500 listed companies.
"Long-term incentive payments play a more important part than ever in the executive reward mix," said Carl Sjostrom, Hay Group's regional director for rewards services in Europe.
"Not only are they more widespread, payments made under such plans are rising too," he said, as companies try to keep a lid on basic pay pay packages while still attracting and retaining top talent.
Of the 332 companies studied, 84 per cent now use LTIs compared to 78 per cent last year.
The size of awards has also risen by 8.5 per cent, year-on-year, Hay Group found.