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4 Big Bank CEOs Ranked by 2016 Compensation

By John Maxfield - Updated Mar 24, 2017 at 2:24PM

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The highest-paid big bank CEO last year earned $28 million.

It's that time of year when publicly traded companies file their proxy reports, which disclose how much they paid their top executives the previous year. Now that all four of the nation's megabanks have done so, we can compare the compensation of the heads of JPMorgan Chase (JPM -0.45%), Bank of America (BAC -1.24%), Wells Fargo (WFC -1.17%), and Citigroup (C -0.23%).

Three out of these four CEOs got raises last year. Bank of America's Brian Moynihan got the biggest raise, at 25%. All told, the 57-year-old executive earned $20 million last year. That ranks the Bank of America CEO second when it comes to total 2016 compensation.

A bar chart of big bank CEO compensation.

Data source: Regulatory filings. Chart by author.

Wells Fargo's newly appointed CEO, Tim Sloan, also earned more money last year than he did in 2015, seeing a 16% increase. However, that wasn't because the bank's performance improved. In fact, just the opposite occurred, as the California-based bank has spent much of the past seven months digging itself out of its massive fake-account scandal that was revealed last September.

The reason Sloan got a raise, in turn, is that he was recently promoted to CEO, after his predecessor, John Stumpf, resigned in the wake of the fake-account scandal. Previously, Sloan was Wells Fargo's chief operating officer.

JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon was the final big bank executive to get a raise last year. His compensation increased 4% to $28 million. This makes Dimon far and away the highest paid big bank CEO (justifiably so, if you ask me).

JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon.

JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon. Image source: JPMorgan Chase.

The one CEO to see his compensation fall in 2016 was Citigroup's Michael Corbat. His earnings dropped by 6% compared to 2015, resulting in a $15.5 million haul. Citigroup's board was clear in its proxy statement that it isn't because they were necessarily displeased with Corbat's performance:

In making the decision on CEO pay, the Compensation Committee considered several factors, including another positive outcome from the 2016 CCAR process which led to the most meaningful capital return since before the financial crisis, objective feedback from regulators on Citi's resolution plan, and the continued wind-down of Citi Holdings. However, the Compensation Committee believed that it was appropriate to reflect the firm's performance relative to its financial targets in the compensation for Mr. Corbat. Overall, the Board continues to be very pleased with the progress Citi is making under Mr. Corbat's leadership and is confident that the plan Citi's senior management is executing will improve returns for stockholders.

It's hard to feel sorry for a guy that earned $15.5 million, but it's a good sign that Citigroup's board is making at least a token effort, which is far less common than one might think in the cushy world of publicly traded companies, of tying executive compensation to the bank's financial targets.

In short, while the amount that any particular bank executive makes in any given year doesn't tend to factor heavily into most investors' decision to buy or sell the underlying bank's stock, it's still good information for investors to be aware of.

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Stocks Mentioned

Citigroup Inc. Stock Quote
Citigroup Inc.
C
$47.10 (-0.23%) $0.11
Bank of America Corporation Stock Quote
Bank of America Corporation
BAC
$31.86 (-1.24%) $0.40
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Stock Quote
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPM
$115.30 (-0.45%) $0.52
Wells Fargo & Company Stock Quote
Wells Fargo & Company
WFC
$39.71 (-1.17%) $0.47

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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