HSBC changed its pay policy for executive directors on Friday, bowing to shareholder concerns triggered by a drop in the bank's share price and worries over its dividend. Ivor Bennett reports on the latest in a growing wave of investor revolts.
The protests maybe more feline than fierce. But is this the start of a shareholder spring? HSBC the latest to face the wrath of its investors. (SOUNDBITE) (English) COLIN GAMAGE, SHAREHOLDER, SAYING: "I don't back pay packets because I think they pay themselves ridiculous amounts of money." (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN, SHAREHOLDER, SAYING: "What are we getting for it? It's ridiculous. We're going to bring it forward in the meeting. We're not happy with that at all." And it's easy to see why - the share price has fallen 25 percent in the last year alone. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIDENTIFIED MAN, SHAREHOLDER, SAYING: "When you're a shareholder and you see your share price go from seven pounds down to four pounds fifty, you see they're not making such big profits. And then you're told that they're going to get increased amounts. It makes you wonder. In any other business would that happen?" BP and miner Anglo American promised to review their pay policies after similar revolts. But shareholders at HSBC managed one step further. The bank agreeing to lower its maximum executive pay by 7 percent. It's unlikely to quell the unrest though. With expansion in China still not paying off, the bank's normally juicy dividends may shrink. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOE RUNDLE, HEAD OF TRADING, ETX CAPITAL, SAYING: "They really need to understand what direction they want to go in. Whether they want to be UK or whether they want to be Far East. They've got a bunch of reputational issues as well. And the management hasn't done a stellar job of turning them round in this difficult environment." HSBC chairman Douglas Flint did try to play down its links to the so-called Panama Papers. But it's not just protesters refusing to let that go. Many investors now calling for a change at the top.