In a corporate version of keeping up with the Joneses, Wharf (Holdings) reportedly will raise its independent directors' remuneration to match market rates. Wharf's independent directors are believed to be among the lowest paid in the city, receiving only $35,000 a year compared with a market average of about $200,000. But that is about to change. 'Wharf has noticed that its current remuneration for independent directors does not match the market average,' a source said. Independent directors are appointed to represent the interests of small shareholders in the boardroom and to give advice on company decisions. To improve corporate governance, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEx) has asked listed companies to appoint at least three independent directors each. However, the exchange has not specified a pay scale and yearly remuneration varies from $20,000 to $900,000 per director. A Wharf spokesperson declined to comment. Any such move would put Wharf in good company. Subject to approval by its shareholders at this month's meeting, HKEx will increase pay for its independent directors by 140 per cent to $240,000 from $100,000 a year, starting on April 1. A source said the raise would match the market average, which has doubled to about $200,000 - still less than the average $360,000 earned by British counterparts - in two years, thanks to the law of supply and demand. 'Since HKEx increased the minimum number of independent directors from two to three last September, the demand for independent directors has increased. This has forced companies to pay more,' the source said. Hong Kong Institute of Directors chairman Herbert Hui Ho-ming welcomed the adjustments, saying the institute would issue guidelines next month on the matter. 'To determine the pay level, companies should consider the amount of time spent by the directors, their background, experience, knowledge and whether they can add value to the board.'