David Prosser: Long-term incentives that are no such thing

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The Independent Online

Outlook Amid the fuss about the remuneration of Marks & Spencer's Marc Bolland and others, it is worth pointing out that around half the rewards potentially payable to the retailer's new boss are compensation for what he is missing out on by leaving his previous employer. That is not meant as a defence of Mr Bolland's handsome package of rewards, by the way, but quite the reverse.

In all, the new M&S chief executive will get £7.5m to reflect what he has given up by moving on from Morrisons, his previous employer. Such bonuses and share options are meant to serve two purposes: to incentivise executives to perform over an extended period and to reward them for sticking around long enough to see the job through.

What is the point of offering such rewards if it is normal practice for companies seeking to poach staff simply to hand over the lucre executives would otherwise forfeit? If promising your chief executive a deal worth millions of pounds is no guarantee that you will keep him for long enough to be judged on whether he has qualified for the pay-out, you might as well not bother in the first place.

It is not just the quantum of these packages that is so out of step with the environment that large companies should now be operating within – although the sums in question are so enormous – but their very structure.

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