The 16th edition of the Executive Pay Barometer details the period from July 2020 – December 2020


Last year (2020) was characterised by the Covid pandemic, economic recession and unemployment.

South Africa’s annual real GDP decreased by 7% in 2020 and unemployment hit a record high in Q4 2020, at 32.5%. Whether directly or indirectly, most South Africans have been impacted by the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although global economies have experienced declines, the JSE has soared in the direction of the 70 000 points barrier (All Share Index). This would seem counter- intuitive, however, one must bear in mind that what is measured by the JSE and what is measured by the gross domestic product are very different concepts that do not necessarily have a positive correlation.

The impact of the Covid pandemic on long term incentives has been negligible since the JSE All Share Index has rebounded and grown beyond pre-Covid-19 levels.

Data sources

The barometer uses publically available financial data, from listed companies’ financial and remuneration reports for the most recent 6 month period, to report on:

  • Executive annual increases
  • Executive variable pay ratios to total guaranteed pay:
  • Short-term incentives
  • Long-term incentives
  • Prevalence of types of share schemes
  • Executive remuneration components by company size
  • Executive remuneration components by industry
  • Wage gap by company size and industry

Industry Groupings

Total Guarenteed Package (TGP) and Increases

  • CEOs and CFOs that received annual increases in 2020, received a median increase of 5.4%.
  • Similarly, Executive Directors received a median increase of 5%.
  • The positive trend between Total Guaranteed Package (TGP) and company size is present across all three kinds of executives.

  • The TGP values of CEOs are the highest across each company size.

  • The median of Executive Directors is marginally higher than that of CFOs within small cap companies.

  • Comparing the same within medium size companies, the median of the Executive Directors is significantly ahead, before ending below the CFOs’ median within large cap companies.

Wage Gap

(The wage is described as the CEO TGP expressed as a ratio of the median A,B,C Band employee’s TGP)

  • The positive correlation between the size of the company and the size of the wage gap persists, albeit at slightly reduced levels.
  • A large contributor to this is that larger organisations will have a CEO with a higher job grade than that of smaller organisations. The larger salary attached to the higher job grade contributes to this positive correlation between company size and the wage gap.
  • The Extractive and Personal Services industries have the largest wage gaps.
  • Conversely, the Social Services industry has the lowest wage gap.

Share Schemes

  • Appreciation shares schemes remain the most popularly used across all kinds of executives.
  • The prevalence of full share schemes has been on the rise in recent years, albeit at a slow, gradual rate.
  • CEOs have the highest prevalence of full share schemes, followed closely by CFOs.
  • Appreciation share schemes are the dominant form of share scheme used within small cap companies (across all kinds of executives).
  • There is a positive correlation between company size and the prevalence of full share schemes.
  • Within the Extractive industry, full share schemes are the most commonly used for CEOs and CFOs.
  • In general, full share schemes are used slightly less frequently for Executive Directors compared to CEOs and CFOs.
  • The Personal Services industry was the most frequent user of appreciation shares schemes across all kinds of executives.

Short Term Incentives (STIs) &
Long Term Incentives (LTIs) as a % of TGP

  • In general, the LTI as a % of TGP increased with company size, with the exception of the Executive Directors that had the largest percentage within medium cap companies.
  • The rebounded share prices on the JSE are a large contributor to why these schemes seem to be unaffected by Covid-19.
  • The median STI as a % of TGP would have a high likelihood of being impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, given that STIs are typically not linked to shares and have short term performance conditions that must be met.
  • The value of the LTI schemes have been positively affected by the JSE’s rebound after the initial drop during the lockdown period.
  • In general, the CFOs’ and Executive Directors’ median unvested LTI scheme value as a percentage of package was below that of the CEOs.
  • The value of STIs would have come under pressure as a result of Covid-19 and the associated lockdown. However, as these values are reflective of annual reports published in 2020 they may not reflect the full effect of Covid-19 and the lockdown.


  • 2020, was a difficult year economically, however, the JSE is running at record highs.
  • The wage gap has marginally decreased.
  • Whether or not the record unemployment rate and social impact of Covid will place a renewed focus on shareholder activism and executive remuneration packages will be seen in the coming year.
  • The South African Reserve Bank predicts economic growth of 3.8% for 2021. Although this is less (in absolute terms) compared to how much the economy contracted last year, it does represent the start of a recovery that will hopefully gain momentum.

Thank you for your interest in the 21st Century Executive Pay Barometer


Written by:

Bryden Morton
Executive Director
B.Com (Hons) Economics
[email protected]

Chris Blair
B.Sc Chem. Eng., MBA – Leadership & Sustainability
[email protected]

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