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Compensation for Blankfein, executives deviate from Wall Street trader pay crunch

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February 1
1:16 PM 2014

A Bloomberg report said amid reports of top banks Goldman Sachs Group Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley shrinking pay of their bankers and traders to reduce costs last year, several Wall Street chief executive officers, including Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon are not having any of it.

Goldman awarded an 11% increase in bonus to Blankfield, while Dimon received an 85% increase in bonus from JPMorgan, the report said. Meanwhile, James Gorman saw his equity award doubled.

According to the news agency, some of the biggest banks on Wall street had set aside a smaller percentage of its revenue to pay for its employees. This was because the banks need to cut costs as a result of a slowing revenue growth from their investment banking and trading units. It was to note that the shares of the three banks jumped last year, reflecting an improving economy in the US, which also had Standard & Poor's 500 Index posted a record high figure.

New York-based search firm Gilbert Tweed International managing director Richard Lipstein tries to reason out the pay imbalance, Given how compensation has fallen on Wall Street, it's potentially viewable as a disconnect. "(Still), you can make a justification that they earned their compensation when you look at the stock performance."

Looking at the bank's stock performances, Morgan Stanley's shares enjoyed a 64% increase last year, while Goldman's shares jumped 39%. JPMorgan shares, on the other hand, had matched the 22% gain in the Standard and Poor's 500 Financials Index, which tracks 81 companies.

Blankfein is touted as the highest-paid US bank chief in 2012, and is expected to retain that status as his bonus increased to $21 million last year for his work. This was a significant increase from the $19 million worth of bonus he received from the bank the previous year, Bloomberg said. Moreover, Goldman also awarded Blankfein, who currently serves as the bank's chairman, restricted stock valued at $14.7 million, based on a regulatory filing done yesterday. A person who had knowledge of Blankfein's payout said the executive also received a cash award worth 30% of his overall bonus, which is around $6.3 million. Aside from his $2 million salary, Blankfein enjoyed a a long-term incentive award in the past three years, the news agency said.

Veritas Executive Compensation Consultants CEO Frank Glassner said banks have amended the means of paying their employees, linking their pay to their performance, and that the increase in executive pay therefore reflect the banks' overall performances.

"Retention of these individuals and succession are really key, especially as these banks start to emerge from these stormy times and get into more consistent performance. The discipline for shareholders is not to focus on the raw numbers, but better to focus on a strategy of pay for performance," Glassner added.

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