Executive wages may have fallen, but the case for pay ratios is even stronger

The government mustn’t be fooled by the lower salaries seen in 2016 and stick to its plan to make remuneration more transparent

It’s amazing: the fat cats of the FTSE 100 survived on smaller helpings of cream last year. Chief executives saw their average pay decline from £5.4m to £4.5m in 2016, a drop of 17%, according to calculations by personnel body CIPD and the High Pay Centre. On a rough estimate, the bosses collected “only” 129 times the average earnings of their employees, down from 145 times in 2015.

Actually, this finding is remarkable only in one way: it happened in a year in which share prices, which affect the value of stock-based incentive packages, were strong. But take a wider perspective to understand why companies may have decided that 2016 was a good moment to take the foot off the pay accelerator.

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Who is liable for £20,000 worth of jewellery stolen during our house move?

A bag full of valuables went missing from the removals van and now the insurer won’t pay out

We had jewellery worth £20,000 stolen during our house move and our insurer is refusing to pay out. In the run-up to the move I phoned our home insurance provider, Yorkshire building society, to ask whether I was covered for the house move or whether I should get extra insurance offered by the removal firm. It phoned me back to say I would be covered for the move. On the basis of this I accepted the quote from the removals firm and did not take out the extra insurance.

On the day in question I packed a number of things into a white laundry sack – including all of my jewellery and other prized possessions – and it went into the van along with about 200 boxes packed by the removal men. It took two days to pack and some of our belongings spent the night in the van. At the new house it took several weeks to slowly unpack. I kept thinking that the white bag would appear, but to my horror it never did. I reported the matter to the police.

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Barclays: triple the profits, but still a work in progress | Nils Pratley

The note of triumphalism that accompanied the bank’s results jarred – it still faces issues in the US and elsewhere

Barclays has cut its dividend in half. Bonuses are running at three times the level of distributions to shareholders. And the investment bank, even after a round of pruning, still isn’t earning returns greater than its cost of capital. A couple of years ago, under hapless former chief executive Antony Jenkins, Barclays would have been hammered for turning in such statistics. Under his successor, Jes Staley, however, all is apparently bright. He says Barclays is “just months” away from completing its restructuring and that 2016 was a year of “strong progress”.

Hold the champagne. Yes, pre-tax profits nearly tripled to £3.2bn as misconduct charges fell way, which is undoubtedly encouraging for shareholders. It is also true that the UK retail bank is purring nicely and that Barclaycard is as reliable as ever. And the cut in the dividend can be deemed old news: it was signalled a year ago as a prudent way to clear the decks and enable “non-core” assets to be shed faster.

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RSA insurance gets profits boost from pound’s slide

Group best known for its More Than brand generates 70% of its business outside the UK

Insurer RSA, best known for its More Than brand, is set to enjoy a profit boost from the pound’s slide since the Brexit vote, while its pension fund has taken a hit.

RSA generates 70% of its business outside the UK – in Canada, Ireland and Scandinavia – and the pound has declined by an average of 14% against those currencies.

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RSA insurance gets profits boost from pound’s slide

Group best known for its More Than brand generates 70% of its business outside the UK

Insurer RSA, best known for its More Than brand, is set to enjoy a profit boost from the pound’s slide since the Brexit vote, while its pension fund has taken a hit.

RSA generates 70% of its business outside the UK – in Canada, Ireland and Scandinavia – and the pound has declined by an average of 14% against those currencies.

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FTSE falls on US rate rise hints, with mining shares down but banks higher

Banks outperform on hopes that higher rates will support balance sheetsThe market is caught in a two way pull, with banking shares moving higher but commodity companies on the slide.It is the prospect of a US rate rise next month, as suggested by the m…

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RSA on the rise as restructuring boosts profits

Insurer cuts costs amid challenging and volatile markets

RSA Insurance is on the rise after an upbeat trading statement from chief executive Stephen Hester.

The insurer said it was on track to at least meet analysts’ forecast for its full year profits, as it stepped up cost cutting in the wake of a failed £5.6bn bid from Zurich Insurance last year. The business has been concentrating on its core businesses in the UK and Ireland, Canada and Scandanavia, and has sold operations in Brazil, Russia and Argentina among others.

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FTSE falls on poor Chinese and UK manufacturing, but RSA leads insurers higher

Motor insurers also roar ahead despite signs of slowdown in rates

Leading shares have started the shortened trading week in a downbeat mood after weak Chinese manufacturing data raised new concerns about the world’s second largest economy.

But insurers are bucking the trend. A new survey from the AA showed a small fall in car insurance rates after recent sharp rises, but the organisation believes the upward trend will soon resume.

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