More than a third (42%) voted against the directors’ remuneration report, which included the arrangement related to a one-off award of £750,000 for Bruce.
Bruce, who is currently head of financial services assurance UK at Big Four firm PwC, is due to take up the role of CFO on 1 June following the retirement of Bill Rattray.
Shareholders previously supported the appointment.
Aberdeen Standard Life said the award package was aimed at attracting someone “from outside of the investment management industry who was previously remunerated on a comparatively consistent annual reward package, without the significant deferral arrangements we apply”.
In its AGM report, Aberdeen Standard Life acknowledged that certain institutional shareholders were unsupportive of the arrangements about Bruce’s remuneration.
“However, as previously announced, taking account of shareholder feedback and in agreement with the incoming CFO, we have applied performance conditions to the award.”
The company said it will continue to engage with shareholders over the concerns raised, and that in line with UK corporate governance codes, it “will publish an update on the engagement within six months of the AGM”.
Last week, shareholders at Standard Chartered rebelled over the bank’s remuneration policy, with many protesting against changes to the way in which top executives pensions’ were calculated.
Executive pay has come under increasingly scrutiny recently. In March, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee released a report aimed at addressing excessive wages for top executives.