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Supervisory board remuneration

2023 Germany Spencer Stuart Board Index

2023 Snapshot

 12 %

average fee increase for chairs

 15 %

is the average fee increase for audit committee chairs (€113,388)

 75 %

of companies pay higher compensation for audit committee members or chairmanship

The German Corporate Governance Code suggests a fixed remuneration (G18): “If members of the Supervisory Board are granted performance-related remuneration, it shall be geared to the long-term development of the company.” In response, task-related components, fixed remuneration and compensation for committee membership continues to grow in importance, while performance-related components are declining.

Fixed remuneration

During the past 10 years, most companies have switched to paying their supervisory board directors a fixed remuneration, additional compensation for committee engagement, and in 28 (70%) of the DAX 40 companies a board meeting attendance fee. 12 companies (30%) decided against paying a general meeting attendance fee.

The average base fee for a DAX 40 supervisory board chair1 in Germany has increased by about 12%, reaching €288,091 in 2022 (compared to €255,937 in 2021). Average total chair remuneration has increased by around 11% to €386,928 (compared to €347,916 in 2021).

The average base fee of a regular supervisory board director2 slightly, by 1%, dropping to €118,534 in 2022 (compared to €119,675 in 2021).

37 of the DAX 40 companies compensated their vice/deputy chairs with an average fee of €185,874. The three companies not included are Airbus, Linde, and Qiagen, since they do not have a vice chair.

Our perspective

By the time some supervisory boards first waived performance-related remuneration, basic compensation had risen dramatically. In the DAX 30 in 2020, remuneration among ordinary board members saw a significant 17% increase, whereas chair fees remained stagnant. In our 2022 analysis, the situation is reversed — chair remuneration averages a 12% increase, compared to an average 1% decrease among  ordinary members.

Now that fixed remuneration is the most widely used fee mechanism, its growth has slowed considerably.

Average growth of fixed remuneration for supervisory boards
2014 2016 2018 2020 2021*
[Dax 40]
[Dax 40]
Ordinary member 14% 18% 17% 5% 17% –1%
Chair 13% 19% 17% 5% –0.4% 12%

* calculation done comparing the board director fees within the DAX 30 group (as analysed in our 2020 Board Index) in relation to the DAX 40 companies analysed following the switch in 2021

Committee fees

All DAX 40 companies reward committee engagement.

Comparing the remuneration of all committee chairs, the audit committee chair compensation is the highest, reflecting the existing liability risk. The average compensation paid to the audit committee chair is €113,388 (compared to €98,870 in 2021), marking a significant 15% increase. Among audit committee chairs in other European countries, Switzerland follows with €93,049 and the UK with £26,260 (approx. €30,500). Belgium registers the least, at €11,578.

In contrast, the nomination committee chair receives less than half the fee paid to their audit committee counterpart. The average fee paid to a nomination committee chair is €44,897 (€38,407 in 2021). This represents 45% more than the €28,348 average compensation of a nomination committee member (€25,255 in 2021). Only 53% (or 21 companies) compensate nomination committee work, probably because meetings are more infrequent.

The average compensation of audit committee members increased by 13% to €59,820 (compared to €52,875 in 2021), which corresponds to almost 53% more than the average compensation of the committee members in the nomination/remuneration committee.

Additional remuneration

In seven (or 17.5%) of the surveyed DAX 40 boards, shares or restricted stock units are part of the remuneration plan.

1, 2 reflected are shareholder representatives and independent non-executive directors without employee representatives