James Ashton: British approach to corporate governance is catching on overseas
Vikram Pandit at Citigroup suffered an embarrassing pay vote recently in America
To guns, cigarettes and whisky, Britain can add another great export: corporate governance. Readers could be forgiven today for thinking that the Barclays shareholder rebellion was the only show in town this week.
Certainly the way the bank convulsed over its pay row captured the attention. Barclays' apology was not really for coming between chief executive Bob Diamond and a hefty raid by the taxman, but rather for failing to get away with it in the eyes of shareholders.
Diamond and co aren't the only ones to feel investors' ire at moment. For a decade now, some of our blue chips have hosted the annual pantomime of protest. Shell, GlaxoSmithKline and Vodafone have all memorably taken their turn. It hasn't been clear that complaining about excessive pay and underperformance has had much of an effect. Just like Barclays chairman Marcus Agius yesterday, companies take the rap on the knuckles, poor headlines and promise to do better next time – only to lapse like an alcoholic at the first opportunity.
Now there is real evidence that corporate governance is having an effect. Once confined to Britain, the touring production is going overseas. Vikram Pandit at Citigroup suffered an embarrassing pay vote recently in America – the land of the giant salary cheque. General Electric is also under the cosh. And the corporate governance brigade, led by British activist Hermes, has made its thoughts clear about the planned succession at Deutsche Bank – a rare event in corporate Germany.
Companies don't need more pay consultants or extravagant charts that claim to plot rewards against performance. They need fewer yes men and someone senior not afraid to pipe up about an excessive pay deal internally.
Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
World news in pictures
You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
Join Ryanair! See the world! But we'll only pay you for nine months a year
Revealed: Eerie new images show forgotten French apartment that was abandoned at the outbreak of World War II and left untouched for 70 years
- 1 Stoke City investigate 'religious abuse' after 'pig's head is found in Kenwyne Jones' locker'
- 2 Heading for America? Prepare for the longest US immigration queues ever
- 3 Amir Khan interview: 'One second could end my boxing career'
- 4 Groundhog day looms for Arsène Wenger as Arsenal battle for a place in the Champions League on final day
- 5 Join Ryanair! See the world! But we'll only pay you for nine months a year
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
iJobs Money & Business
£550 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Fidessa Analyst / PM - Banking - London - Up to £...
£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: Sourcing Manager - Banking - London - Up to £500p...
To be discussed at interview.: Queen Elizabeth's School: An experienced and ef...
£294.05 - £330.92 per day + 150 per day travel and accommodation: Orgtel: A le...