Banks increase directors’ pay despite tough times

Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed banks increased their directors’ pay by 3.6 percent last year despite the fall in industry earnings, reversing the previous year’s effort to keep board spending in check.

The total remuneration of bank directors hit Sh1.15 billion after seven out of the 11 publicly traded lenders increased their boards’ pay.

National Bank nearly doubled its fees to directors to Sh43.37 million last year from the Sh24.88 million it paid out in 2015.

I&M Bank Kenya directors’ take-home grew at the second-fastest rate of 61 per cent to Sh92.99 million, followed by StanChart’s 23 per cent to Sh162.49 million in the review period. The director’s earnings had in 2015 dropped 5.6 per cent to Sh1.11 billion as most lenders effected strong cost-cutting measures to improve profitability.

Bank directors earn hefty monthly retainers, sitting allowances for every board meeting or board committee meeting attended, travel allowances, and per diem while away on official duty.

The directors’ pay has been seen to be out of tune with the industry’s performance in a turbulent year in which lending to small and mid-sized enterprises significantly dropped in favor of government securities.

The shift in the lending mix has been mainly attributed to the coming into force of a law capping interest on loans at four per cent above the policy rate — currently at standing 10 per cent — last September.

The earnings have put the directors in the league of top bank owners who reaped a 13 percent rise in total dividend payout to Sh34.7 billion compared to Sh30.8 billion in 2015.

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The higher paychecks for bank directors also come in the year in which the lenders shed more than 1,000 jobs through massive retrenchment of staff to cut costs.

Both directors’ fees and staff costs are treated as operating expenses in the profit and loss accounts and have a bearing on earnings.

Barclays Kenya attributed last year’s 5.9 per cent growth in its directors’ pay to an increase in emoluments to board members.

“The basic rates of fees paid to non-executive directors were increased by 10 per cent in Quarter 2 of 2016,” Barclays said in its latest annual report, which indicates that the directors earned Sh107 million.

The lender, which is 68.5 percent controlled by Barclays plc, said the basic rates for fees paid to non-executive directors had remained unchanged since 2014.

The four banks, which cut payments to directors, were Equity Bank by 30.8 per cent, KCB by 12.3 percent, Stanbic Kenya by 10.4 per cent and NIC Bank by 8.9 percent.

Gathoni Kuria

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