Where do CEOs live?
Denise Coates, the UK’s highest-paid CEO, is having a futuristic mega-mansion, said to be worth £90m, built over 21 hectares of rural Cheshire. When she moves in, the Bet365 boss will join more than 1,200 business leaders living on the eastern side of the county.
This area is one of the few parts of northern England that are popular with CEOs. In fact, the 30 local-authority districts of England and Wales with the highest proportion of residents in such occupations are all in London or the home counties, according to 2021 census data.
In the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in central London, more than one in every 50 adults report that they are “chief executives and senior officials” – the highest proportion in the country. At the other end of the scale, they constitute three in every 100,000 residents of Stoke-on-Trent.
That’s despite the fact that the 2.5 million businesses registered in England and Wales are more evenly spread around the country. Most districts have between two and 10 registered businesses per 100 people.
But even taking only the largest businesses into account, the South East is home to far more CEOs. For every firm with an annual turnover exceeding £2m registered in London, there are 1.5 CEOs and senior officials living there, for instance. In the Yorkshire and Humber region, the equivalent figure falls to 0.5.
While the census numbers include senior civil servants, who may be obliged to live within commuting distance of the capital, they reflect a wider trend for regional inequality across the UK.
The smaller cities and regions of England and Wales underperform London (and their European counterparts) on several measures, including employment, productivity and the number of skilled workers. That’s partly down to poor transport links, according to a recent FT analysis, as well as historic underinvestment in those regions and the concentration of key industries, such as financial services, in the capital.
Could the popularity of the South East among business leaders also be a factor? Potentially. One Danish study found that workers at companies whose CEOs lived close to their HQs were more engaged and productive than average. Shipping bosses north of the Watford Gap will not solve the nation’s regional problems, but it might not hurt to try.
|Number of CEOs
|CEOs as a percentage of population
About the data
The 2021 census was conducted during the Covid-19 pandemic. The data it produced may therefore have been skewed by lockdowns, government guidance and furlough measures.