Streams

Smaller Bonuses for Bank CEOs

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Morgan Stanley building in Times Square. (Ramin Talaie/Getty)

JPMorgan Chase, the nation's largest bank, posted record profit for 2011. Morgan Stanley's latest quarter topped expectations as the bank trimmed costs and cleaned up mortgage-related problems. But CEOs Jamie Dimon and James Gorman aren't taking home bigger bonuses.

Banks are curbing bonus pay for last year, which was marked by big drops in stock prices and still-hefty costs for mortgage-related problems. In the last three months of the year, fear about the European debt crisis made the stock and bond markets volatile, and clients of all the major banks shied away from mergers and acquisitions and public offerings of stock. That sharply reduced investment banking and underwriting fees. The banks also faced a surge in populist anger, as the Occupy Wall Street movement went national.

Financial stocks were some of the worst performing in 2011. While the S&P 500 Index finished the year flat, Morgan Stanley shares plunged 44 percent, JPMorgan dropped nearly 22 percent and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. tanked 46 percent.

Compensation followed the downward trend. In a closely watched and politically charged gauge, JPMorgan Chase & Co. revealed earlier this month that it set aside 36 percent less than the year before to pay its investment bankers. Morgan Stanley shed 700 workers last year and capped the amount that workers can get in their bonuses immediately, deferring anything over $125,000. Rival Goldman eliminated 7 percent of its employees and cut 2011 pay by 21 percent.

And it appears the banks' CEOs are not immune. On Friday, Morgan Stanley's regulatory filing showed that the value of Gorman's stock award for the year dropped to $5.1 million from $10.2 million in 2010.

Gorman, who became CEO two years ago, has been slimming down the bank, selling off units like a mortgage servicing division and an asset management business. He's been emphasizing divisions like wealth management, which provide smaller returns than some investment banking operations but also carry a lot less risk because they're based on fees rather than markets. Unlike JPMorgan and some other big banks, Morgan Stanley doesn't have a large consumer deposit base to rely on when its investment bank stumbles.

JPMorgan's Dimon received restricted stock worth $12.6 million and stock appreciation rights reportedly valued at roughly $5 million for 2011, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday. That compares with about $17.1 million in stock and SARs that he was granted for 2010.

For the full year, JPMorgan posted a record profit of $19 billion, up from $17.4 billion in 2010. But the bank struggled amid the choppy financial markets, which hurt investment banking fees in the fourth quarter. The bank also disclosed that it spent $3.2 billion last year to fight lawsuits, almost all of them over poorly written mortgages. That's down from $5.7 billion in 2010, but Dimon acknowledged there's still a "huge drag" on earnings five years after the bubble burst.

Complete compensation details, including the value of the executives' 2011 cash compensation, perks and benefits weren't disclosed. None of the banks have filed annual proxy statements, which include those financial details.

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