Canada’s bank CEOs get 7% pay raise to earn $53.6 million in fiscal 2017

TORONTO — The chief executives of Canada’s five biggest banks collectively earned roughly $53.6 million in the latest fiscal year, up more than seven per cent from a year earlier.

But it was a particularly good year for Toronto-Dominion Bank’s chief executive Bharat Masrani, who got a more than 20 per cent increase in total direct compensation to pull in $10.85 million in the twelve months ended Oct. 31, 2017.

Still, Royal Bank of Canada’s chief executive Dave McKay was paid the most among his peers with $12.43 million in total direct compensation, up 7.9 per cent from a year earlier, according to the banks’ latest proxy circulars.

The rise in total direct compensation — which includes base salary and performance-based incentives — in part reflects the increasing demands for chief executives in the banking industry, said Bill Vlaad, president of financial services recruitment firm Vlaad and Co., which also monitors compensation trends.

Financial institutions are now in the midst of a rapid technological shift, he said, as consumers increasingly do transactions online and via mobile phone.

“The speed and velocity of change at these firms has been increasing, and to stay on the leading edge has required a lot more stealth by these CEOs,” said Vlaad. “I think it’s been a good time to be a CEO, but it is not for a lack of effort.”

The Bank of Nova Scotia’s Brian Porter was second-highest paid at $10.86 million in total direct compensation, marking a 7.4 per cent increase from fiscal 2016.

Bank of Montreal’s Bill Downe, who retired from the top role on Oct. 31, was paid $10.5 million in total direct compensation, down roughly one per cent from a year earlier.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce’s chief executive Victor Dodig received $8.94 million in total direct compensation in 2017, up 1.71 per cent.

These pay increases came during a fiscal year where each of the five biggest Canadian lenders reported record annual profits. During that time, these banks collectively earned $40.3 billion in net income for fiscal 2017, up nearly 13 per cent from a year earlier.

The banks had benefited from the surprising strength of the Canadian economy, even amid worries about overheated housing markets and the fallout from government steps to cool them down.

While these chief executives received a 7.17 increase in collective direct compensation for the fiscal year, they received even more when taking into account other elements such as pension value.

Collectively, these five executives earned total compensation for fiscal 2017 of $58.6 million, marking an 8.2 per cent bump from fiscal 2016.

McKay received the highest total pay at $13.36 million, followed by Porter at $12.84 million. Masrani’s compensation package was third-highest at $12.44 million, while Downe and Dodig received total pay of $10.53 million and $9.44 million, respectively.

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