Building society fat cats land £6.5m: Nationwide under fire over banker-style pay


Britain’s biggest building society has come under fire for dishing out £6.5million to bosses.

Campaigners said the lavish awards at Nationwide were at odds with its role as a mutual – supposedly driven by a desire to help its 15.5m members rather than profit.

Chief executive Joe Garner was handed £2.3million last year, including a bonus of £903,000 on top of his pay of £855,000.

The 48-year-old married father of one also received a pension allowance of £342,000 and benefits worth £217,000 including medical insurance, a car and a driver, according to the Nationwide annual report published yesterday.

Campaigners said lavish awards at Nationwide were at odds with its role as a mutual supposedly driven by a desire to help its 15.5m members rather than profit

Garner’s chief operating officer Tony Prestedge, 47, was paid £1.4million. Finance boss Mark Rennison, 57, got £1.5million, while chief products officer Chris Rhodes, 54, took home £1.3million.

Critics said that the pay deals were on a par with those handed out to FTSE bosses and were inappropriate at a mutual.

Dr Asa Cusack, a customer of Nationwide and lecturer at London School of Economics, who has challenged the firm on pay in the past, said: ‘This seems wrong and to go against the principles it would have had when it was established. 

‘They are not magicians – it’s a job, and there are plenty of people who would do it.’

Ian Lucas, Labour MP for Wrexham, said: ‘I think it’s completely unacceptable. Most people with Nationwide are there for a particular reason. 

‘They could go to banks if they wanted to but they wanted to support building societies, and that means working together. I believe in appropriate rewards but I think they are having a laugh.

‘It’s also a matter of principal.’

Nationwide has 15.5m members and lent £29.4billion in mortgages last year. Profits dropped slightly to £977million.

Anger has been mounting over pay to building society bosses. Critics argue it is against the principals of their organisations and risks damaging their standing as an alternative to banks.

Last year, the Mail revealed how the bosses of Britain’s five biggest building societies raked in £6million in 2016, despite savers languishing on low interest rates.

Top earners included Mike Regnier, the boss of Yorkshire Building Society, who was paid £625,000 in 2016. His pay leapt even higher in 2017, up to £930,000.

Nationwidehas argued that it needs to pay well to attract top talent, and that if it was a listed company it is large enough to be at the top end of the FTSE.

Luke Hildyard, director of the High Pay Centre campaign group, said: ‘Nationwide will argue in one breath that they’re a large financial services organisation and have to pay the supposed market rate for that sector, then with the next market themselves as a mutual society who behave in a more responsible, long-term manner than the big banks.

‘It does seem a bit hypocritical, and it’s hard to imagine that they couldn’t be successful without paying a much more reasonable amount of money.’

A Nationwide spokesman said: ‘We need to attract the right talent across the organisation. We pay our people market rates.’



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