Simon Read: Should our mutual friends really be paid so much more money each year than the Prime Minister?

Reader Robin Waite writes in from Leeds with a request. "Can you give some publicity to the Skipton Building Society?" he asks. But not to praise it. Far from it. In fact Robin is angry at the pay increases enjoyed by chief executive David Cutter.

"His total remuneration soared from £617,000 in 2012 to £751,000 in 2013," Robin points out. That's an increase of 21.8 per cent. "But on top of that," Robin continues, "he was awarded a further basic salary increase of 8.1 per cent in 2014."

His angered is centred around the fact that the Skipton is a mutual, which means it is in business for the benefit of its members, not just to boost the pay packets of its bosses.

"What about the many savers and pensioners who find that the maximum rate of interest that they can get on a standard deposit account is just 1 per cent gross?" Robin reasonably asks. "That's an all-time low and well below the rates of inflation."

"How on earth can this practice be called a mutual when we see so much greed at the top," he wants to know.

It's a fair question. Are building society bosses paid too much? The spotlight was shone on the Saffron last month after it was revealed that its chief executive Jon Hall had his total pay package boosted by 33 per cent to £323,000 last year. Meanwhile over the same period, the Saffron made 84 cuts to savings rates.

But it's not just savers fed up with paltry returns who are angry. Anyone experiencing a pay freeze or laughable rises of between 1 per cent-2 per cent will look on with a mixture of envy and amazement that the top people at building societies can justify such increases.

Meanwhile others will question the wisdom of rewarding the bosses of so-called mutual building societies with massive pay increases on top of their already fat wage packets. Sure we need strong expert leaders to run our mutual societies, but do they need to be paid so much?

Next month it will be the turn of Graham Beale, the chief executive of the Nationwide, to reveal his latest pay increase. Do you want to know how much he was paid last year for his efforts? Hang on to your hats – it was a tasty £2.2m!

Is he worth it? The building society thinks so. "At Nationwide there is a fundamental link between performance and remuneration," the mutual told me. "We pay for performance – we recognise achievement and don't reward failure."

It points to the fact that under Mr Beale's leadership, Nationwide's market share of current accounts has grown and that members voted by 92 per cent to approve the directors' remuneration.

Does that make his salary package seem reasonable? Not to me. I understand the concept of the bigger the society the more responsibility. But I would take issue with the need for Saffron's Mr Hall to earn twice as much as the Prime Minister, let along Skipton's Mr Cutter trousering three quarters of a million. Is being boss of the Skipton worth a salary twice that of the Saffron? For that matter, is the Nationwide chief worth his three times the salary of the Skipton or six times the wage of the Saffron? To put it bluntly, Graham Beale earns roughly 12 times as much as what we think the Prime Minister is worth.

Fair? What do you think? Before we leave the subject let me point out that Paul Ellis, the chief executive of the ethical Ecology building society, earned just £84,000 last year and enjoyed a pay increase of 1.2 per cent. It's a comparatively small building society but it should be applauded for keeping bosses' pay under control.

Twitter: @simonnread

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

    £30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

    Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

    £250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

    Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

    £230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £22,000 - £23,000: Beverley James: Are you looking for the opportunity to work...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower