At the company’s annual general meeting on Tuesday, 22.3% of shareholders vetoed Standard Life’s remuneration report detailing Skeoch’s salary and benefits package.
The decision comes just a week after Skeoch agreed to cut his bonus by £700,000 ($1.01m, €894,317) representing 400% of his salary rather than 500%.
Standard Life chairman Gerry Grimstone told a media briefing after Tuesday’s meeting that the deal may have come too late for some shareholders.
“Pay is very high across financial services, all chairmen know that,” Grimstone said, though he defended Skeoch’s pay deal, comparing it to his predecessor David Nish.
“When we appointed Keith Skeoch to replace David Nish last year, the remuneration committee restructured his pay to reflect his new responsibilities running both a global investment company and a life assurance business.
“We believe in pay for performance and although, compared to his predecessor, the variable component was increased, his basic salary was decreased, deferral was lengthened, and shareholding requirements were tightened,” he said.
At the meeting, several shareholders raised concerns that Nish, who stood down last August, continued to be paid his £835,000 salary and all other benefits until June – a contractual matter, argued Grimstone.
Grimstone also said he was starting to see a downward pressure on executive pay, arguing that “if London wants to be competitive as a global financial centre, it has to attract the best talent”.
According to The Guardian, Grimstone said he agreed with the lobbying to cut pay in the sector.
“My personal view is that pay in financial services is too high … There is downward pressure on pay and I think that’s a good thing,” he told the paper.
Standard Life is that latest financial services firm to face a shareholder revolt. Last month, shareholders voted against Schroders’ decision to appoint former chief executive Michael Dobson to the position of chairman.