For Nordic bosses, joys of home trump top dollar pay

Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:01am EDT
 
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By Niklas Pollard and Balazs Koranyi

STOCKHOLM/OSLO (Reuters) - Executive excess need not be etched in stone. Just look at the Nordic region, where an egalitarian tradition and a high quality of life leave top managers content with lower paychecks.

Though corporate pay scandals do occur and the gap between executive and average salaries has risen, company bosses in Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway earn lower wages on average than in the United States and elsewhere in Europe, data show.

Yet there is little sign of Nordic executives and top talent manning the long-boats in search of better pay abroad.

"There's more to life than money," said Leif Borge, chief financial officer at Aker Solutions, Norway's biggest oil services company, who made about $862,000 in 2011.

"I'm happy with my salary, it covers my needs. I have a cabin in the mountains and that is a quality of life I wouldn't have in Houston."

Total pay for top executives in Sweden and Denmark is about 75 percent of the European average, and lower in Norway and Finland, data from management consultancy Hay Group show, a gap compounded by some of the world's highest taxes.

Moreover, Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen often figure among the top 10 most expensive cities, although luxury homes there are cheaper than in London, Zurich or Geneva.

Borge's opposite number as CFO of FMC Technologies, a U.S. counterpart, earns $2 million a year, Reuters data show.   Continued...