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2023 UK Spencer Stuart Board Index

2023 Snapshot

 7 %

increase in chair remuneration to £433,935 (£404,915 in 2022)


is the average additional fee for SIDs, a 32% rise (£21,653 in 2022)

 7 %

increase in the NED base fee to £76,868 (£72,051 in 2022)

Board remuneration

Remuneration data for the 2023 UK Spencer Stuart Board Index is based on the most recent annual reports published before our cut-off date of 30 April 2023. All dates in this section refer to the publication year of the relevant Board Index, not the calendar year. Twelve companies in our sample pay board fees in currencies other than, or in combination with, sterling (usually US dollars or Euros).

The average base fee for a non-executive director had increased by 2% every year for the past decade and reached £72,051 in 2022. This year’s average of £76,868 represents an increase of 7%. Experian pays the highest non-executive director base fee of £150,914 and Watches of Switzerland pays the lowest at £50,000.

While there has been a 7% increase in average total pay for chairs and 6% increase for senior independent directors over the past year, this is most likely a reflection of the cost-of-living crisis. It is important to note that 2021 annual reports reported a drop in average pay for chairs and senior independent directors in response to the Covid crisis. Current average total pay for both these roles remains lower than if an annual increase of circa 2% had continued to be applied through the crisis. The average total remuneration of the chair is 3.5x that of the SID and 5.6x that of the NED.

Average chair fee
Average SID fee

The chart below shows how chairs at larger FTSE companies are paid substantially more than the mean. Details of pay levels at each company can be found in the company tables.

Most companies with a senior independent director on their board offer an additional fee for the role, plus committee memberships where applicable. The average additional fee is currently £28,505, a 32% increase over 2022 (£21,653). Additional fees for SIDs range from £5,000 at LondonMetric Property and Games Workshop to £200,000 at HSBC.

Chair fees by FTSE rank group
Fee Total remuneration
1-10 £728,010 £769,916
11-20 £681,940 £657,100
21-30 £603,235 £569,914
31-40 £591,338 £573,398
41-50 £412,227 £402,503
51-100 £377,844 £364,727
101-150 £294,457 £274,421
SID fees by FTSE rank group
Additional SID fee Total remuneration
1-10 £70,882 £248,916
11-20 £40,790 £181,490
21-30 £33,884 £166,146
31-40 £25,076 £144,458
41-50 £20,387 £106,345
51-100 £26,075 £115,146
101-150 £19,940 £90,667
Non-executive fees by FTSE rank group
Base fee
1-10 £107,772
11-20 £93,310
21-30 £99,539
31-40 £80,872
41-50 £75,253
51-100 £74,075
101-150 £64,693
Our perspective — Comparing UK and US director fees

At a time when the scale and scope of issues facing business continues to intensify, it is worth noting that non-executive board directors in the UK are paid on average 30% of what their US counterparts receive as total compensation, and have to attend a greater number of board meetings. US directors generally receive a cash retainer plus at least matching shares, whereas in the UK shares are rarely part of the non-executive director's remuneration package.

2022–2023 has seen a so-called ‘FTSE exodus’, with a number of UK companies moving their listing to the US, and the question often arises, why does this pay gap exist? The most obvious reason is down to scale – US listed companies are significantly larger and pay levels are therefore elevated. In addition, there is more acceptance and less scrutiny by investors and the public over pay levels in the boardroom. Coupled with the fact that UK equities do not carry the appeal they used to for institutional investors and pension funds, the job of the non-executive is far less attractive in the UK than it is in the US – the risk/reward ratio is uneven and for many potentially outstanding directors, the option of sitting on a public company board is now relatively low down the priority list.

For details of US director compensation, see the Spencer Stuart 2023 S&P 500 Compensation Snapshot

Committee remuneration

While 145 companies in our sample offer an additional fee to the chair of audit and 144 to the chair of the remuneration committee, additional fees are only available to audit committee members on 67 boards and to remuneration committee members on 66 boards.

92% (138) of nomination committees are chaired by the chair of the board and 53% (79) are composed solely of non-executive board members. Fifty boards provide an additional fee to committee members.

Average fees for core committees
Chair ChangeΔ Member ChangeΔ
Audit £26,260 +5% £15,824 +3%
Remuneration £24,316 +4% £14,540 +5%
Nomination £18,839 n/a £11,196 +9%
Highest committee chair fees
Audit committee
  1. Barclays: £84,000
  2. GSK and Standard Chartered: £80,000
  3. HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, and Prudential: £75,000
  4. Investec: £74,000
  5. NatWest: £73,000
Remuneration committee
  1. Standard Chartered: £80,000
  2. HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group: £75,000
  3. Barclays : £73,500
  4. NatWest: £73,000
  5. Prudential: £65,000
Risk committee
  1. HSBC: £150,000
  2. Barclays: £84,000
  3. Standard Chartered: £80,000
  4. Prudential: £75,000
  5. Natwest: £73,000

59% (89) of boards have established subject-specific committees beyond the core committees (audit, remuneration, and nomination) and risk. The chair of Glencore’s health, safety, environment and communities committee receives the highest fee for chairing a subject-specific committee (£99,454). Risk committees are mainly found in financial services companies where the time commitment is significant, hence this committee carries the highest average fees for both the chair and members.

More details on sustainability-related committees can be found in the section on Sustainability and ESG committees.

Average fees for other committees
Sample size Chair fee ChangeΔ Member fee ChangeΔ
Risk 26 £43,485 +12% £19,059 +25%
Sustainability 25 £27,016 +21% £13,916 -3%
ESG 16 £19,228 +14% £8,688 +18%
Corporate social responsibility 14 £21,482 +5% £12,092 +1%
Health and safety 16 £25,122 +7% £17,668 -5%
Financial 12 £21,652 +33% £15,934 +35%
Compliance 14 £22,515 -17% £12,866 -22%
Others* 13 £32,478 +143% £19,755 +67%
People* 3 £20,777 +110% £5,000 0%
Science 4 £27,500 0% £12,500 0%
Technology 4 £46,625 +29% £22,500 -25%

* Note: the large increase % is due to the small sample size where one or changes of constituent can have an outsize effect on the average. Details of company-specific committee remuneration are available in the committee tables