Broker-Dealer and Bank CEO Comp in 2023: Merrill, BofA, Wells Fargo and More

Compensation for CEOs at major financial firms ranged from roughly $25 million to $35 million in 2023, with pay rising sharply for some and dropping for others.

Precisely how investors view executive compensation packages may depend, however, on which reported figures they consider.

Companies have long reported salary, incentive and other pay in summary compensation tables, as required, in their filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but those numbers don’t necessarily reflect compensation paid for that year. Summary compensation tables include indirect compensation, such as the change in pension value.

So companies also report adjusted figures, representing compensation directly or actually paid for a given year, often pointing to these when highlighting CEO compensation in their annual reports.  

As Goldman Sachs notes in its recent proxy statement, SEC rules require firms to include in the summary compensation tables only those equity-based awards granted in that year, rather than awards granted after year-end for services performed during the year.

Cash compensation must be reported for the year earned, even if paid after year-end, Goldman notes, adding that it typically grants stock awards and cash variable compensation for a year after the year’s end.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2023 that companies were preparing to report, for the first time, how much their executives were actually being paid for a given year, including counting stock award gains and losses rather than the value given when awards were granted. The charts below show both methods of reporting CEO compensation, and the year-over-year changes from 2023:

Here are the major financial firm CEO pay figures now available for 2023. These include details from the summary compensation tables, except where otherwise noted, plus the bottom-line alternatives that the firms report. The executives are ranked by total compensation for 2023.

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