Non Executive Director (NED) Pay Guide: How Much Does a Non-Executive Director Cost?

You may have heard about non-executive directors (NEDs) and their crucial role in corporate governance. But have you ever wondered how much these directors are compensated for their valuable contributions?

In this article, we will delve into the world of NED compensation in the United Kingdom, exploring the factors that influence their remuneration and providing an overview of the average costs for hiring NEDs in different types of boards. Prepare to uncover the truth behind NED remuneration and challenge any preconceived notions you may have had.

Key Takeaways:

  • Non-executive directors (NEDs) play a vital role in corporate governance.
  • Their compensation is influenced by various factors such as experience, company size, and time commitment.
  • Average remuneration ranges for NEDs differ across listed company boards, private company boards, and other sectors.
  • NED compensation often includes a mixture of fixed fees, variable components, and additional benefits.
  • NED compensation can vary depending on the industry and the size of the organization.

Factors Influencing NED Compensation

The compensation of NEDs is influenced by various factors, which are crucial for companies to consider when determining non-executive director pay. These factors include:

Importance of Experience and Expertise

The experience and expertise of a non-executive director play a significant role in determining their compensation. Directors with extensive industry knowledge and a proven track record are often valued higher and may command higher remuneration due to the value they bring to the boardroom.

Company Size and Complexity

The size and complexity of the company also impact NED compensation. Larger organizations and those with more intricate operations may require directors with a broader range of skills and experience, which can result in higher pay. Smaller companies or those in less complex industries may offer lower compensation.

Time Commitment and Responsibilities

The time commitment and responsibilities of NEDs can vary depending on the company and its specific needs. Directors who are required to dedicate more time and contribute to more intensive board activities may receive higher compensation to reflect the additional demands placed on them. Conversely, directors with lighter responsibilities may receive lower remuneration.

To attract and retain qualified non-executive directors, companies must carefully consider these factors when determining NED compensation. By offering competitive pay packages that reflect these considerations, organizations can ensure they secure top talent and benefit from the expertise NEDs bring to the boardroom.

Factors Influencing NED CompensationImpact on NED Pay
Experience and ExpertiseHigher compensation for directors with extensive knowledge and a proven track record.
Company Size and ComplexityLarger companies and complex industries may offer higher remuneration, while smaller companies or less complex industries may provide lower compensation.
Time Commitment and ResponsibilitiesDirectors with heavier time commitments and more responsibilities may receive higher pay, while those with lighter responsibilities may receive lower remuneration.

Average Remuneration Ranges for NEDs

The remuneration of non-executive directors (NEDs) can vary significantly depending on the type of company and industry they are associated with. In this section, we will provide an overview of the average remuneration ranges for NEDs in different types of boards. This will include compensation ranges for listed company boards, private company boards, and other sectors such as pension trusts and investment trusts.

Compensation Ranges for Listed Company Boards

Non-executive directors serving on listed company boards often command higher compensation due to the larger scale and complexity of these organizations. The NED remuneration for listed company boards in the UK typically falls within a range of £50,000 to £200,000 per annum. However, it is important to note that these figures can vary depending on factors such as company size, industry, and the specific responsibilities of the NED.

Average Fees for Private Company Boards

On the other hand, non-executive directors serving on private company boards tend to receive lower compensation compared to their counterparts on listed company boards. The average remuneration for NEDs in private company boards in the UK ranges from £20,000 to £80,000 per annum. The exact amount may be influenced by factors such as the size and financial performance of the company, as well as the level of experience and expertise required from the NED.

To provide a comprehensive understanding of the average remuneration ranges for NEDs, it is essential to consider other sectors such as pension trusts and investment trusts. These sectors also have their unique compensation structures, often influenced by regulations and market conditions. A thorough analysis of these additional sectors will further enhance our understanding of the average NED remuneration landscape.

Average Remuneration Ranges for NEDs

Board TypeAverage Remuneration Range (per annum)
Listed Company Boards£50,000 – £200,000
Private Company Boards£20,000 – £80,000
Pension TrustsVaries based on fund size and complexity
Investment TrustsVaries based on fund size and performance

Understanding the Breakdown of NED Compensation

The compensation of NEDs is a vital aspect that companies need to consider. It typically consists of a combination of fixed fees and variable components. In this section, we will delve into the details of NED compensation, examining the breakdown of their pay and the various components that contribute to it.

Fixed Fees vs. Variable Components

One of the fundamental aspects of NED compensation is the distinction between fixed fees and variable components. Fixed fees are predetermined amounts that NEDs receive for their services, usually paid on a regular basis, such as an annual or quarterly fee. These fixed fees provide a stable income for NEDs and compensate them for their time commitment and responsibilities.

On the other hand, variable components of NED compensation are subject to performance-based factors. These may include bonuses, stock options, or other incentive schemes that align the interests of NEDs with the company’s performance. Variable components have the potential to enhance NED’s pay based on the achievement of specific targets or milestones.

Additional Benefits and Perquisites

In addition to the fixed fees and variable components, NEDs may also receive additional benefits and perquisites as part of their compensation package. These incentives are designed to provide NEDs with additional value and recognize their contributions to the company.

Benefits and perquisites can vary depending on the company and industry. They may include executive benefits like health insurance, pension schemes, or access to company resources for personal use. Perquisites, also known as perks, could encompass travel allowances, expense accounts, or club memberships.

Providing additional benefits and perquisites can help attract experienced and highly qualified NEDs, ensuring their commitment and motivation to contribute effectively to the company’s success.

Comparing NED Compensation Across Industries

The compensation of non-executive directors (NEDs) can vary significantly across different industries and sectors in the UK. In this section, we will explore the trends in NED compensation across various industries and delve into the impact of company size on NED remuneration.

Sector-Specific Compensation Trends

When it comes to NED compensation, different industries may have distinct norms and practices. Let’s take a closer look at some sector-specific compensation trends:

  • In the finance sector, such as banking and investment firms, NEDs often command higher remuneration due to the complexity and regulatory nature of the industry.
  • In the technology sector, where innovation and disruption are prevalent, NEDs with expertise in emerging technologies may receive higher compensation to reflect their specialized knowledge.
  • In the healthcare industry, NEDs may receive competitive compensation due to the sector’s unique challenges, regulatory requirements, and the critical nature of healthcare services.

These examples highlight how NED compensation can be influenced by industry-specific factors, including the level of expertise required, regulatory compliance, and the competitive landscape.

Impact of Company Size on Compensation

Company size plays a crucial role in determining NED remuneration. Generally, larger organizations tend to offer higher compensation to NEDs compared to smaller companies. This is primarily because larger companies typically have more complex operations, greater responsibilities, and higher levels of risk.

In addition, larger companies often require NEDs with extensive experience and expertise to guide and oversee their strategic decisions. As a result, NEDs serving on the boards of large corporations may command higher compensation to reflect the increased demands and responsibilities of the role.

On the other hand, smaller companies may offer lower NED compensation. This is not necessarily a reflection of the director’s value or expertise but rather reflects the lower resources and financial capabilities of smaller organizations.

It’s important to note that while company size is a significant factor, other variables such as industry type, company performance, and individual NED qualifications also contribute to the overall remuneration.

In section 5, we have compared NED compensation across industries, exploring sector-specific compensation trends and the impact of company size on remuneration. This analysis provides valuable insights for organizations seeking to benchmark NED compensation and ensure it aligns with industry standards and company size. 

By understanding these factors, companies can establish a fair and competitive NED compensation structure that attracts and retains top talent, ultimately enhancing corporate governance and driving sustainable business success.

Related reading: Are non-executive directors classed as employees?

Legal and Governance Considerations in NED Compensation

Regulatory Frameworks and Disclosure Requirements

When determining NED compensation, it is crucial to consider the legal and governance aspects involved. Various regulatory frameworks and disclosure requirements govern NED remuneration to ensure transparency and accountability.

Regulations such as the Companies Act and the UK Corporate Governance Code provide guidelines on NED compensation. These regulations aim to promote fair and reasonable pay structures, prevent conflicts of interest, and enhance corporate performance.

Under these regulatory frameworks, companies are required to disclose detailed information about NED compensation in their annual reports and accounts. This includes the total remuneration, performance-related elements, pension contributions, and any other benefits received by NEDs.

Furthermore, companies are expected to establish clear policies and procedures for setting NED compensation. These policies should align with the principles of fairness, transparency, and accountability.

Shareholder Approval and Transparency

In addition to regulatory requirements, shareholder approval plays a critical role in NED compensation. Shareholders have the right to scrutinize and approve the compensation packages of NEDs to ensure they are aligned with the interests of the company and its stakeholders.

Companies typically seek shareholder approval for NED compensation at their annual general meetings (AGMs). This gives shareholders the opportunity to voice their opinions, ask questions, and provide input on the proposed compensation packages.

Transparency is key in the process of setting NED remuneration. Companies are expected to provide clear and comprehensive information to shareholders regarding the factors influencing NED compensation, the rationale behind the proposed packages, and the potential impact on the company’s performance.

By ensuring shareholder approval and maintaining transparency, companies can build trust and confidence among their stakeholders and demonstrate their commitment to sound corporate governance practices.

Regulatory Frameworks and Disclosure RequirementsShareholder Approval and Transparency
  • Companies Act
  • UK Corporate Governance Code
  • Annual report and accounts disclosure
  • Fair and reasonable pay structures
  • Prevention of conflicts of interest
  • Shareholder scrutiny and approval
  • Annual general meetings (AGMs)
  • Transparency in setting NED remuneration
  • Providing comprehensive information to shareholders
  • Building trust and confidence

Challenges in Setting NED Compensation

Setting NED compensation can be a complex task that requires careful consideration of various factors. In this section, we will explore the key challenges involved in determining NED remuneration and how organizations can navigate them effectively.

Balancing Cost with Value

One of the primary challenges in setting NED compensation is finding the right balance between cost and value. While organizations aim to attract highly qualified and experienced directors, they must also consider the financial impact of their compensation packages. Striking the right balance ensures that NEDs are appropriately rewarded for their expertise while keeping costs in check. This challenge becomes even more critical in times of economic uncertainty or financial constraints.

Navigating Shareholder Expectations

Managing shareholder expectations is another significant challenge in setting NED compensation. Shareholders often play a crucial role in approving NED remuneration packages and expect transparency and fairness in the process. Organizations must effectively communicate with shareholders, providing clear justifications for the compensation levels and demonstrating how they align with industry standards and the company’s performance. Failing to meet or manage these expectations can lead to discontent among shareholders and potentially affect the organization’s reputation.

By understanding and addressing these challenges, organizations can establish an effective NED compensation structure that attracts top talent, aligns with budgetary considerations, and maintains transparency and shareholder confidence.


In conclusion, optimizing NED compensation for strategic benefit is crucial in the UK. By understanding the role of non-executive directors (NEDs) and the factors that influence their remuneration, organizations can create a well-structured and competitive compensation package.

When organizations optimize NED compensation, they can attract and retain highly qualified directors. This helps improve corporate governance and leads to better business outcomes. It is essential to consider the various factors and challenges involved in setting NED compensation to ensure it aligns with the strategic goals of the company.

By finding the right balance between cost and value, organizations can maximize the benefits of NED pay. This involves considering the experience and expertise of directors, the size and complexity of the company, and the time commitment and responsibilities required in the role. Transparency and adherence to regulatory frameworks and shareholder expectations are also key.

In conclusion, a well-optimized NED compensation package not only ensures financial competitiveness but also supports the strategic goals of the organization. By attracting and retaining qualified NEDs, companies can enhance their corporate governance, increase stakeholder trust, and drive long-term success.


What is the role of a non-executive director (NED) in a company?

Non-executive directors provide independent oversight and strategic guidance to a company’s board of directors, bringing outside expertise and perspective.

How much does a non-executive director get paid in the UK?

Non-executive director pay in the UK can vary widely depending on the company size, industry, and responsibilities, but it typically ranges from thousands to tens of thousands of pounds per year.

Do non-executive directors get paid differently than executive directors?

Yes, non-executive directors typically receive fixed fees for their service on the board, while executive directors may receive a combination of salary, bonuses, and stock options based on company performance.

Are non-executive director fees regulated by any governing body?

Non-executive director fees are not regulated by a specific governing body in the UK, but companies must disclose director pay in their financial reports.

How do non-executive directors typically get compensated for their work?

Non-executive directors usually receive an annual fee for board meetings, committee work, and other duties, with additional fees for chairing committees or special projects.

Are non-executive directors paid for their roles in charities or trusts?

Yes, non-executive directors serving on charities or trusts may receive fees for their services, although the level of compensation can vary based on organization size and budget.

What factors influence the pay of non-executive directors in the UK?

Factors such as company size, industry sector, board responsibilities, and individual experience can all impact the pay levels of non-executive directors in the UK.

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran seven of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.