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Spanish bankers are among the best paid in Europe. Although they are also the ones who cut their salary the most during the last year, in general, the presidents and CEOs of banks in Spain earned more than managers of European entities that are larger and that they obtained better results in the last exercise.

The salaries received by Spanish bankers have been under the scrutiny of public opinion, the unions and especially the Government. In recent weeks, members of the Executive have asked for restraint in what they consider to be high salaries at a time when banks are negotiating collective layoffs that when finalized will mean a cut of more than 15,000 jobs in the sector.

Comparing the salaries received by Spanish bankers in 2020 with the remuneration of the top executives of the largest European entities by volume of assets, it follows that the best paid are the executives of Swiss banks. Sergio P. Ermotti, who stepped down as CEO of UBS in September, he received 11.7 million euros, while Thomas Gottstein, who was appointed chief executive of Credit Suisse in February 2020 he earned 7.7 million.

At the top are also the CEO of Deutsche Bank, Christian Sewing (7.37 million), and the president of the entity, Karl von Rohr (5.88 million). His case is particularly striking, since in 2020 increased their remuneration by 46.5% and 37.1%, respectively. This increase is explained because Deutsche Bank managed to return to profits after two years in the red and the bank decided to increase a kind of bonus fund, since it wanted to reward employees for the commercial boom registered in the wake of the pandemic. However, this increase in salary of the top leaders of the German entity provoked strong criticism from unions and politicians they called for a downward correction.

After Deutsche Bank, the presence of Spanish bankers among the highest paid begins to be relevant. Ana Botín, president of Santander, and José Antonio Álvarez, CEO of the entity, received 6.82 and 6.02 million, respectively. Both are in the same salary band as the top executives of European entities of similar size. In Botín’s case, she is the only woman on the list.

In the case of BBVA, both the president, Caros Torres Vila (received 4.09 million in 2020) and the bank’s CEO, Onur Genç were the bankers on this list who cut their pay the most, 43.8% and 44.6%. Even so, in the last year Torres received a higher remuneration than the first executives of banking giants such as Antonio Horta-Osório, from Lloyds (3.95 million); Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, from BNP Paribas (3.69) and Carlo Messina, from Intesa Sanpaolo (3.32 million).

Likewise, the CEO of CaixaBank, Gonzalo Gortázar (earned 2.83 million in 2020, 24.7% less) and the president of Sabadell, Josep Oliu (his remuneration amounted to 1.99 million, 35.6% less) obtained a higher remuneration than the CEOs of Société Générale (Frédéric Oudéa earned 1.78 million, 33.8% less), Credit Agricole (Philippe Brassac received 1.7 million, s 30.6% less), ING (Steven van Rijswijk, who took office in July 2020, earned 1.49 million) o Unicredit (Jean Pierre Mustier earned 0.91 million after cutting his salary by 24.2%). All of them are entities that were several times the size by volume of assets of CaixaBank and Sabadell at the end of 2020.

Similarly, if the results obtained by Spanish banks in 2020 are analyzed, they are very far from the results of the main European banks and, in fact, are at the bottom of this classification. Only CaixaBank (obtained a profit of 1,381 in 2020) and BBVA (earned 1,305 million in the last year) were in line with other large European entities, but even so they are very far from bank as BNP Paribas (earned 7.067 million), UBS (5,412 million) or Credit Agricole (4,689). On the other hand, Santander registered red numbers for 8,771 million and Sabadell saved the losses with a meager profit of two million.

Criticisms of the remuneration of bankers in recent times are not exclusive in Spain. In Italy, the recent appointment of Andrea Orcel As CEO, he has generated a strong controversy over his remuneration, which will amount to 7.5 million, while his predecessor in office earned less than one million euros in 2020.

In any case, despite the fact that the Government has transferred the possibility of limiting bankers’ salaries to the Bank of Spain, the supervisor lacks the mechanisms to do so. In recent weeks, in addition, the entities have emphasized that the remuneration is regulated and approved by the shareholders.


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