What's the right approach for top execs to take in a recession?

This week saw housebuilder Bovis Homes give 95,000 shares to chief executive David Ritchie in place of a cash bonus. The £282m turnover housebuilder said a cash bonus would be “inappropriate” given the state of the market.

In a week when the Association of British Insurers made rumblings about the excesses of executive pay, the company is in a minority.

The shares won’t “vest” before May 2012 and how much Ritchie can cash in depends on the intervening share price performance. In the Twilight Zone of what big firms believe are fair bonuses, it seems as equitable a solution as any.

It’s a far cry from the ever-shifting goalposts of Persimmon, Bellway and Taylor Wimpey, who have moved the criteria for hitting bonus targets away from profit and towards cashflow as the former evaporates from the balance sheet. Bellway even tried such a move retrospectively last year, much to the annoyance of the ABI.

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