Local bank CEOs earned $1m more last year

They led their banks through tough credit, macroeconomic conditions

LAST year turned out to be another good year for the chief executives at all three local banks.

In each case, their total remuneration was up from a year earlier as bonus and share rewards lifted their already multi-million-dollar income.

The 2014 annual reports of DBS Group Holdings, OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank (UOB) showed that the respective chief executives - Mr Piyush Gupta, Mr Samuel Tsien and Mr Wee Ee Cheong - all earned about $1 million more than they did in 2013.

UOB's Mr Wee was the highest paid of the trio, with total remuneration of $10.22 million in 2014, up $1.02 million from 2013's $9.19 million. This came mostly from his bonus, which grew $1 million to $9 million last year as basic salary also grew from 2013's $994,000 to $1.2 million.

As a result, Mr Wee overtook DBS' Mr Gupta, who was the highest paid in 2013 with total remuneration of $9.2 million.

However, Mr Gupta's reward of $10.12 million last year, a $915,000 increment, was just shy of Mr Wee's 2014 figure.

Mr Gupta's base salary was unchanged at $1.2 million, but his cash bonus grew $366,000 to $3.79 million and share plan rose $549,000 to $5.07 million.

At OCBC, Mr Tsien's pay packet grew $1.07 million from 2013's $8.82 million to $9.89 million last year. His base salary was flat at $1.24 million, while bonus grew $638,000 to $5.14 million and share awards rose $319,000 to $2.57 million.

The pay packets of the three CEOs are well above some of their regional counterparts. Maybank chief executive Abdul Farid Alias, for instance, received remuneration of $2.03 million last year.

But the figures are still below some global bankers. Citi chief executive Michael Corbat, for instance, was paid US$13 million ($17.6 million) last year.

The handsome pay of the Singapore trio came after all three guided their banks through the challenging credit and macroeconomic environment last year to achieve robust performance.

DBS' full-year core net profit advanced 10 per cent year on year in 2014 to $3.85 billion. UOB also grew its net profit last year, by 8 per cent to $3.25 billion. OCBC's core net profit last year surged 25 per cent to $3.45 billion.

For OCBC's Mr Tsien, whose remuneration grew the most last year, 2014 would be a highlight of his tenure since April 2012 as he led the bank to complete its $6.23 billion acquisition of Wing Hang Bank in Hong Kong.

While costly, the move is set to substantially strengthen OCBC's footing in Greater China, where the bank now commands 88 branches, including Wing Hang's network in the Pearl River Delta.

At DBS, consistent broad-based growth has been Mr Gupta's key achievement since he was appointed to the top job in November 2009.

Already in pole position in terms of retail banking, DBS has also been actively building its cross-border institutional banking business under his leadership, and recorded $2.23 billion in treasury income last year, up 8.11 per cent year on year.

Reflecting his track record, Mr Gupta was hotly tipped in January this year to be the next chief executive at Standard Chartered. He shot down the rumour before former JPMorgan investment banking boss Bill Winters was given the job.

UOB also saw another year of well-rounded performance in 2014, benefiting from the Wee management's prudent approach in building a regional franchise.

Its focus on corporate and SME banking continued to pay off as the bank received $1.17 billion in net interest income, up 6.7 per cent year on year last year while keeping non-performing loan ratio unchanged at 1.2 per cent.

whwong@sph.com.sg