02 December 2013
Confidence in the UK economy is growing, but there is still some way to go before public trust is restored in company remuneration arrangements, according to the latest FT-ICSA Bellwether survey.
These are just two of the findings of the fourth FT-ICSA Boardroom Bellwether survey, the bi-annual survey produced by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) and the Financial Times (FT), which canvasses the views of FTSE350 company secretaries to determine UK boardroom sentiment on a range of business issues.
Significantly, 80% of survey respondents believe that UK economic conditions are improving compared to just 28% of respondents in the inaugural March 2012 survey. The latest survey also reports an improvement in economic outlook globally and within industry sectors with 69% and 56% of respondents expecting to see improvements over the next 12 months respectively.
In terms of shareholder engagement, the survey reveals that the number of companies with a plan for engaging with investors has risen sharply to 87% from 60%. Boardroom diversity, including gender diversity (up to 51%, from 32% in July 2013), is also revealed to be on the increase, with wider business experience and geographical diversity improving as well.
With regard to remuneration, however, the findings show that there is still some way to go before public trust is restored in company pay arrangements, with 76% of respondents feeling that public concerns will not be allayed by new remuneration guidelines. Peter Swabey, Policy & Research Director at ICSA feels that companies should ensure that remuneration is 'less about planning changes to various aspects of pay in response to media coverage, political pressure and public anger, and more about improving the alignment of pay with performance. It’s a simple matter of encouraging trust through good governance.'
Another finding of note from the survey is that more companies are taking cyber risk seriously. The number of companies which has discussed the Government guidance on cyber risk has jumped to 67% from 21%.