Big Wall Street firms enjoyed a stellar 2021 thanks to a booming stock market and a frenzy of mergers and initial public offerings. Bankers and CEOs are reaping the rewards.
Goldman Sachs (GS) announced in its fourth quarter earnings report last month that it set aside $17.7 billion for compensation expenses last year, an increase of 33% from 2020.
That works out to an average of nearly $404,000 for the firm’s 43,900 workers. Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon was the biggest beneficiary.
The bank said in a regulatory filing late last week that Solomon took home $35 million in compensation in 2021. That’s up from $27.5 million in 2020.
Solomon received a $2 million salary. The remaining $33 million of the CEO’s 2021 haul is what Goldman Sachs calls “annual variable compensation,” which Solomon received thanks to “the firm’s performance and continued strong progress on its growth strategy, as well as Mr. Solomon’s outstanding individual performance.” More than $23 million of that bonus was paid in stock.
Solomon isn’t the only top Wall Street executive raking in even bigger bucks.
Morgan Stanley (MS) CEO James Gorman received a $35 million pay package last year as well, with much of the money also coming in the form of stock. Gorman earned $33 million in 2020. And JPMorgan Chase’s (JPM) long-time chief Jamie Dimon got a $3 million raise — to $34.5 million — in 2021.
The giant paychecks for top bank CEOs shouldn’t come as a huge surprise given that the market finished last year near all-time highs and bank stocks were among the market leaders.
Morgan Stanley said in its earnings report last month that its compensation expenses were up nearly 20% in 2021.
Compensation consulting firm Johnson Associates predicted in November that bonuses would likely hit their highest levels since 2009 for many on Wall Street thanks to what the firm described as a “scorching IPO market” and “robust M&A activity”.
Investment banking advisers and equity traders are both expected to get 20% to 25% jumps in their bonuses compared to 2020 while stock underwriters could get bonus increases of 30% to 35%, according to Johnson Associates.
New York will release bonus figures for the entire brokerage industry sometime next month.
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a preliminary forecast in October that New York City expects a 6.5% rise in the average bonus for 2021. That would boost bonuses above the post-Great Recession high from 2017.
DiNapoli said last March that the average bonus paid to Wall Street employees in 2020 was $184,000, up 10% from 2019.