Firm's secretaries to reap pounds 120,000 bonus

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The Independent Online
A SELECT group of City secretaries stand to make about pounds 120,000 each from what must be the ultimate in staff incentive schemes. Their top boss, on the other hand, is expecting to pick up a cool pounds 100m from the same deal.

In what is seen as a mini version of the Goldman Sachs bonanza, all will be beneficiaries of an estimated pounds 500m pot from the maturing of share options at Jupiter Asset Management. The firm of unit trust managers has become the darling of small investors and PEP holders through consistently high performance levels and equally high-profile advertising.

The incentive scheme was put in place four years ago when Jupiter was sold to the German Commerzbank, but retained 25 per cent of the shares to be distributed among its staff. Part of the deal was a five-year "earn out", whereby the value of the options depended on the company's performance. As this has exceeded all predictions, the pot has just continued to grow and could get even bigger over the final year.

The major beneficiary will be John Duffield, the chairman and founder of the firm, who is estimated to get pounds 100m. He began in 1985 by handling some funds for the Astor family with a secretary and a book keeper, but Jupiter now has about pounds 2bn under management.

A company spokesman declined to discuss the figures involved, but said: "It is entirely appropriate that those responsible for producing such a performance benefit from it."

According to industry insiders, it is a policy that has worked. "Everybody has an incentive for the company to do well," said Mark Dampier, of Hargreaves Landsdown financial advisers. "You get a better service from the receptionist upwards. It is very noticeable."