The Gherkin

The salaries of the City's top executives are "too high" and a number of firms could struggle to justify further increases, a Standard Life investment chief said on Monday (6 February).

Speaking to the BBC's Today programme, David Cumming, head of equities at Standard Life, said his company could not justify higher salaries and urged investors to do more to make their displeasure known over executives pay.

"We continue to see too many proposals that would bring a substantial increase [in pay], and we have to signal that we are not happy with that," he said.

American investment fund BlackRock is understood to have written to a number of City executives, outlining its intention to oppose proposals for pay increase or excessive pension benefits.

According to the BBC, at least 13 of the City's top fund managers have met to discuss the issue and Cumming said the industry had to present a united front.

"We do speak to each other, and there is a general view that there are too many chairman who take too obsequious a view of their chief executive and their pay," he said.

"If we don't succeed, then we might have much more draconian action from the Government, which would be much less flexible and worse overall for shareholders."

Last year, Prime Minister Theresa May waded into the subject by calling for workers to be represented on company boards. She also said pay ratios, which show the gap in earnings between the chief executive and an average employee, would also be looked at, and stated her intention to stop an "irresponsible minority" of companies behaving badly.