Executives are paid for what it takes, says Andy Cook

Now that most companies have published their report and accounts for 2003, it is time to see how much our leaders are being allowed to pay themselves.

The results make particularly interesting reading this year after Royal &SunAlliance (R&SA) group chief executive Andy Haste earned £1.38m for nine months work last year and received plenty of flak from shareholders for doing so.

When compared to the real fat cats, Haste's salary seems a little more reasonable. GlaxoSmithkline's JP Garnier pocketed £2.8m in 2003. And it must also be recognised that Haste has got the job that many ducked. It will be tough and stressful rebuilding investors' faith in R&SA. So is Haste's salary fair? Gut reaction says yes, but R&SA is just paying what it takes.

The next highest earner in the list is Benfield chief executive Grahame Chilton who is rewarded for seeing Benfield successfully float in 2003. Also Bronek Masojada must feel like he is earning his wage since he has taken on a lot of Sian Fisher's responsibilities since she left.

Interestingly the lower earners all saw share price increases. Of course this is a crude measure but in the end it is the one that investors really care about.

So does the general insurance industry harbour so-called fat cats? We'd love to know what you think, so drop me a line (
andy@insurancetimes.co.uk ).

Apologies to all those who feel that they should be on the list. The list it is not intended to be definitive; more a snapshot of some of our listed companies.