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Our survey approach

2021 UK Spencer Stuart Board Index

The 2021 UK Spencer Stuart Board Index covers the top 150 companies with a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange, according to market value at the end of April 2021. Market values range from £124,870m (BHP Group) to £2,399m (Shaftesbury). The sample excludes investment trusts and two-tier boards (TUI).

The purpose of the survey is to provide a comprehensive review of governance practices in these 150 companies at a given point, in order to identify significant trends over time.

The information has been compiled from publicly available sources and from contacting the companies in the sample. Board composition data was taken on 30 April 2021, and remuneration information, for the most part, from the latest published annual report during the same period. Executive committee data is taken from company websites and annual reports.

There are 26 changes of constituents since last year’s edition. Eleven companies joined the sample this year by increasing their market value and moving up the list (Computacenter, Dr. Martens, Ferrexpo, Frasers Group, Future, Grafton Group, Investec, Marks & Spencer Group, Royal Mail, Virgin Money UK, and Vistry Group). Dr. Martens went public in January 2021.

Of the new entrants, three are returning after dropping out of the top 150 in 2020: Marks & Spencer Group, Investec, Royal Mail.

BBA Aviation last year changed its name to Signature Aviation and was then acquired by Cascade Investment, Blackstone Group, and Global Infrastructure Partners in May 20201. It has been delisted since our cut-off date. GVC Holdings has rebranded to Entain.

Fourteen companies have left our sample (Assura, Babcock International Group, Cranswick, Kaz Minerals, Primary Health Properties, TP ICAP, Beazley, Big Yellow Group, Britvic, Greggs, Man Group, Mediclinic, Network International and Trainline).

The breakdown by sector is similar to the 2020 edition. Thirty-nine per cent of constituents belong to the industrial and manufacturing sector, followed by the broader financial sector (23%), consumer (21%), the technology, media and telecommunications (11%), healthcare (5%), and business and professional services (1%).

Chairs are excluded from the split between the executive and non-executive directors, and their tenure is treated separately. However, they are included in categories such as foreign directors, women, and average age. In discussing CEOs and CFOs, we are concerned only with those who sit on their company’s board.

Foreign directors are defined as being of a different nationality from the company on whose board they sit. The new directors category relates to those appointed 12 months preceding the cut-off date, i.e. between 1 May 2020 and 30 April 2021.

In our tables, we state remuneration data in the currency used by the respective companies in their annual report. We convert all figures to sterling for our broader analysis, using the Bank of England average exchange rate of the relevant financial year.

Ethnic identity data was collected from annual reports as self-reported by companies, following the Parker Review recommendation. We have changed the mode of obtaining data from the previous method, which involved imputing ethnicity classification from open sources; hence, ethnicity data is not comparable to that reported in previous years. For this survey, and following the Parker Review recommendation, directors are described as minority ethnic or white.

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the company secretaries of the top 150 companies who kindly reviewed data from their own boards as we prepared the 26th edition of the UK Spencer Stuart Board Index.

Spencer Stuart contributors

Tessa Bamford (London), Monisha Banerjee (London), Livia Enomoto (Amsterdam), Keith Fryer (London), Leoni Fruhwirth (Amsterdam), Celia Jackson (London), Nadia Kangmasto (Amsterdam), Alastair Rolfe (London), Alice Wyatt (London).