WPP recently reported its worst annual financial performance (2017) since the great recession. But the company’s CEO, Martin Sorrell is still raking in a huge bonus — a little more than GBP10 million, or about $14 million at today’s exchange rate.
That bonus alone is about 10 times what the average American makes IN A LIFETIME. And about nine times what the average Brit makes in a lifetime, according to this recent report.
The company disclosed the bonus information in a filing issued Wednesday. And that’s just for a wildly generous incentive compensation plan WPP has had in place for a while. UK corporate watchers have been outraged about the plan for years.
Sorrell’s total compensation for last year won’t be disclosed for another month or two.
WPP has tried to explain why company performance has fallen. For one thing, clients are just plain stingy and don’t want to spend as much on marketing services anymore. Maybe because client investors have had the audacity to demand more ROI.
A few years back, WPP investors were riled enough over the company’s executive compensation plan that a majority of them declined to approve it, I think for 2012. The vote wasn’t binding, just an expression of disapproval. Like getting bit by a toothless gerbil.
And, of course, the dollars kept rolling in for Sorrell. The WPP chief raked in GBP70 million in 2015, while his 2016 comp “plunged” to GBP48 million.
That said, WPP investors have done well. The company has reams of data and charts showing how just how well investors have done over the years. It’s all there on WPP's website.
The fact is that Sorrell has built the biggest holding company in Adland -- and he became extraordinarily wealthy doing it. If and when investors think there’s a better man or woman for the job, there will be.
That’s how the marketplace works.