Vacancies put finance chiefs at a premium

Nathan Bostock quit RBS after three months as finance director. Picture: Contributed
Nathan Bostock quit RBS after three months as finance director. Picture: Contributed
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A FLURRY of vacancies for ­finance directors in some of Britain’s biggest companies, including Royal Bank of ­Scotland, is likely to send ­salary and bonus packages soaring, City headhunters have claimed.

International recruitment specialists say the “cyclical” ­occurrence of several top financial officer posts becoming available in quick succession means it is likely to become a sellers’ rather than buyers’ market.

“You are going to see this spate of FD vacancies has a knock-on effect on remuneration,” one leading headhunter said. “It is what happens in these sorts of situations, supply and demand at the highest levels of corporate boardrooms, particularly when they are FTSE 100 companies.”

RBS was rocked this week when finance director Nathan Bostock quit after less than three months in the job, moving to rival bank Santander UK as chief risk officer and deputy chief executive under boss, Ana Botin.

Edinburgh-based life assurance giant Standard Life is still searching for a finance chief after Jackie Hunt was poached by London-based rival Prudential to head its UK operation earlier this year.

This followed George Culmer­ being lured from insurance giant RSA last year by Lloyds Banking Group after Bostock changed his mind on a previous plan to join the bank.

Philip Broadley, FD at financial investment group Old Mutual, announced on Friday that he would be leaving the company next year.

Sports Direct, the sports clothing retailer, is also hunting for a new FD as Bob ­Mellors is retiring at the end of this year on health grounds.

Jonathan Evans, chairman of Sammons Associates, the ­international search and selection agency, said: “The remuneration reaction to all this is what you would expect. As with compliance and regulation, there is a necessary requirement for everyone to up their game in terms of the ­financial packages on offer for the role of chief financial ­officer [CFO]”.

Evans said that FTSE 100 ­finance directors in particular were “fundamental appointments that you just have to get right”.

He added: “CFOs at big companies often have to be the hatchet man in terms of costs, and also not infrequently the steward of financial integrity in big organisations.

“Along with chief executive, it is the other main appointment in the boardroom and that is why the search process can be long and drawn out.

“When there’s a sudden lack of expertise such as this in FTSE companies, in particular, I would certainly expect golden hellos, inflated basic salaries and guaranteed bonuses including stock options.”