Willy’s a card, isn’t he?

The starting point has to be getting the language and argument right. What prompts anger with executive pay is the belief that it has risen far too fast for far too long with too little justification or relationship to the right kind of performance. Shareholders and society alike want – or should want – executives paid well to build great, purposed companies over time. Instead, the incentives are too much oriented to delivering a high share price in the immediate future, encouraging corner-cutting to get there. If Corbyn had said that last Monday he would instantly have had a more defensible position.

The only viable way forward is to create the best justification process possible, along with the best-designed incentives to produce results that everyone is proud of, as the Purposeful Company taskforce argued in its interim report on pay last November. (Full declaration: I am on its steering group.) Scoring goals in football happens over 90 minutes; scoring goals in business life – innovating, building great products and market share – takes years. Reward should be phased over the same period and designed to build companies driven by purpose.

Which is why CEO pay is almost all in long term share awards these days. The numbers being exactly those that Hutton is complaining about.

26 comments on “Willy’s a card, isn’t he?

  1. “Shareholders and society alike want – or should want – executives paid well to build great, purposed companies over time. “

    If the shareholders truly want that, they have the means to ensure it. What society might want is irrelevant.

    What Willy fears most is that he’s the only one who gives a damn.

  2. What Willy means is that he chose the wrong career. Back when he were a lad, it looked like a good choice for a solid Lower Second class student like his good self.

    Since then City wages have pulled away – and that is just so unfair.

  3. Willie “The Bankruptor” Hutton is “steering” the Purposeful Company Trust (as opposed to all the ” Created For No Particular Reason” companies out there) is he?

    Bad news for the PCT I think. They won’t be long for this world.

    Lets hope they at least keep an eye on his exes. Willie seems to still do alright out of bringing on the misfortunes of others .

  4. This is the same Will Hutton who, as principal of Hertford College, had to publicly apologise yesterday for accidentally circulating a list of the names of all the undergraduates it had refused places to. He’s kind of the anti-Midas, it seems.

  5. Mr Ecks – “Unless you are paying him to piss off and stop bothering decent people.”

    The Work Foundation? The LSE? Guardian Media Group? The Millennium Commission? The Principal of Hertford College?

    It looks like that is just what someone is doing.

  6. Matthew L – “The attempt to relate to the oiks with a football metaphor is just painful.”

    Especially as scoring goals – at least at the level that pays – also takes years. There is no way I could take to the field and play Chelsea tomorrow. I would have to put in the ten thousand hours or whatever the stupid claim is. And be born with the right genes.

  7. It’s striking that becoming the Master of an Oxbridge College is now so unattractive that they end up hiring the likes of Hutton.

  8. There does seem to be a race to the bottom as far as executive pay is concerned. I have no objection to a company paying their top executives large amounts of compensation if they think they are worth it, but the problem then comes when the public sector, (NHS, Civil service, NGOs etc.), decide they need to pay their executives similar amounts in order to ‘attract the right level of people’.

    Unfortunately, the public sector types don’t have the level of accountability that private sector execs are held to and since they are being paid with my money, I would like the chance to make them accountable, or at least be able to stop doing business with them as I can with a bank, say.

    Which leads to the next problem. As the government takes a bigger and bigger interest in the way that firms do business, the lack of accountability is spreading to the private sector and executives are getting paid eye wateringly large sums of money to perform their duties, but if they fuck up then the taxpayer will bail them out and this time we pay double; once as customers not getting value for money and again as taxpayers bailing out crap companioes run by crap executives.

  9. Phillip Scott Thomas,

    “He’s kind of the anti-Midas, it seems.”

    He had a series on the BBC recently (of course) where he was talking about successful businesses and went to Dyson. Building more engineering area, lots of investment in engineering etc etc.

    I’ve worked in Dyson, and it’s funny because my own feeling was that it’s a company heading for a fall. On the one hand, they pour money into products that don’t take off, and on the other hand, their key patent has expired and everyone is making rival products. I mean, who the hell thinks there’s a market for £300 hair dryers when the pro ones are only £120?

  10. BobRocket,

    People who want to show off how good they look in public. No-one spends big bucks on slippers.

    Same with Apple stuff. They sell stuff that’s seen. Their desktop stuff has pretty weak sales. The iPad sales are falling fast because no-one sees that you use a crappy-looking £100 Lenovo tab in front of the TV.

  11. “The only viable way forward is to create the best justification process possible, along with the best-designed incentives to produce results that everyone is proud of, as the Purposeful Company taskforce argued in its interim report on pay last November. (Full declaration: I am on its steering group.) ”
    Sigh. What the sodding pissing fucking cunt does this sentence mean?
    Willy may be a card, as you say, Timmy. Is he Master Bun the baker’s son from Happy Families?

  12. @Anon: (Apple) desktop stuff has pretty weak sales”. No, I would argue that Macs’ sales are pretty robust considering desktops are no longer the only, overwhelming computing platform. But for those of us in publishing, print repro, high-quality picture/film/sound reproduction, an Apple desktop is the only choice.

  13. Morpork,

    Macs outsell iMacs around 4:1. Normal ratio of laptops to desktops is 1.5:1.

    And regarding media, that’s rubbish. You can run Avid, Photoshop, Blender, Renderman and Pro Tools on Windows (and sometimes Linux). And on better hardware. Final Cut Pro is about the only exclusive to Mac. Massive have given up on Macs and only support PC and Linux now.

    Seriously, the “pro” machine is still running on Haswell architecture? £4K and you get a 4 year old chip and maxed out at 16GB of RAM. Unsurprisingly, when someone made a PC for the same price and ran speed tests on Lightroom, it smoked it.

    I’d recommend leaving the sinking ship. Apple just want fashion users.

  14. Obessives love Macs: Richard Dawkins is a fan, for example. And, as for the iphone, there are now many (often much cheaper) alternatives, so their market is shrinking to the brand-conscious. Apple is more a fashion company than a technology company.

  15. Mr & Mrs No-one and their progeny do:

    Shipton & Heneage specialise in monogrammed slippers — made and embroidered by hand in the UK ‘from the finest-quality velvets and leathers’ and finished with a satin lining.

    Retailing at £310 a pair, they can be customised with a family crest.

  16. Oops, omitted from above reply:

    TO: Anon, January 15, 2017 at 4:35 pm
    “People who want to show off how good they look in public. No-one spends big bucks on slippers.”

    […Shipton & Heneage…Retailing at £310 a pair, they can be customised with a family crest.]

  17. I thought the reason CEO pay came in the form of stock options today was thanks to Clinton’s millionaire CEO tax.

  18. @ Liberal Yank
    The US Inland Revenue only *thinks* it rules the world. A domestic UK company paying a UK citizen living and domiciled in the UK is not liable to Clinton’s millionaire tax.

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