THE chief executive of abrdn has been awarded a bonus of nearly £800,000 as the Scottish financial services heavyweight swings the axe on around 500 jobs.

Stephen Bird will receive a total bonus of £786,000, equating to 89.8% of his £875,000 salary, for 2023, according to the latest abrdn annual report. His total remuneration, including pension allowance, bonuses, and salary, totalled £2.14 million for the year, the report shows.

Details of Mr Bird’s remuneration came as abrdn reaffirmed plans to slash around 500 jobs as part of a restructuring programme announced in January that aims to revive its flagging investment business to an “acceptable level of profitability”. The cuts would amount to a 10% reduction in the firm’s headcount and aim to save about £150m a year.

READ MORE: Edinburgh investment giant abrdn to slash 500 jobs

This morning, abrdn reported net outflows of £13.9 billion as its investment business came under pressure from “structural and macroeconomic” challenges in global equities markets. Mr Bird also cited the “higher for longer” interest rate environment in developed economies, which he said was “adding sustained pressure on most asset classes”.

Assets under management and administration at the company fell to £494.9bn from £500bn.

But abrdn underlined the strength of its interactive investor (ii) and Adviser businesses, which Mr Bird declared were “delivering” for the company. He said the company was “scaling up these market-leading platforms to benefit from long-term structural growth in UK savings and wealth”.

The company saw shares lift in early trading after it said it reduced costs by £102m in 2023, ahead of the £75m targeted, and reaffirmed that the cuts announced on January 24 would save at least £150m a year by 2025. However, the share price had eased back around by late morning.

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Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “High inflation and worries about economic growth have been challenging for the asset management sector, and abrdn has embarked on a deep cost-cutting plan to revive its performance.

"It sold off its US and European private equity arms but has been trying to keep revenue moving in the right direction through the acquisition of interactive investor. This should provide a relatively stable source of assets for the group, given its one of the UK's biggest direct-to-consumer investment platforms, albeit in a highly competitive market.

“There is likely to be significant disgruntlement emanating from reports that the deteriorating performance hasn’t stopped the board awarding chief executive Stephen Bird an £800,000 bonus, particularly given the scale of the job cuts announced.”