The markets might be picking up, but executive pay is unlikely to follow suit

The head of one of the world’s largest dedicated shipping recruitment companies has warned executive pay is unlikely to pick up much despite many shipping markets being in better health.

Writing in a newsletter to clients Mark Charman, CEO of Faststream Recruitment Group, commented: “Pay rises are modest and mostly defensive. We do not see any significant uptick in executive pay and many companies are only making ‘cost of living’ pay rises.”

Charman suggested those who are paying more than the market are usually start-ups and new entrants to the sector.

Bonuses are pretty static, the Faststream boss also observed while noting companies are also steering away from expensive expatriate packages, which include housing and schooling and instead, are focusing on total cash cost of hire.

“This is leading to candidates doing much more detailed homework on the actual cost of relocation and consequently some tough negotiations over pay,” Charman wrote. Faststream has noticed a trend of executives relocating independently and only moving their families and committing to schools and houses once settled in a new role.

Singapore continues to experience the highest demand globally for senior shipping executives, according to Faststream.

Also of interest in the letter to clients, Charman believes top management at many shipping companies are finally seeking to redress the gender imbalance in shipping.

“More often than not, when taking a search brief, we are asked about the availability of female executive talent. Addressing the industry-wide gender imbalance at board level is an increasingly hot topic and one that is not quickly solved,” Charman wrote.

Charman has also noticed that more executive employment agreements are coming with non-compete or non-competition provisions.

“Often, they are too broad, too restrictive and too unreasonable to be enforceable,” Charman wrote, adding: “We are finding that executives frequently do not understand them, have failed to take proper legal advice and this, unfortunately, is leading to legal disputes between employer and ex-employee.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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