While many hardships come with running a major company, one motivating incentive to take on the CEO position is the massive salaries they receive for a job well done – and this is no different for South Africa’s most prominent banking CEOs.
Being a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is no easy feat. The role comes with immense pressure, as these leaders face ever-increasing regulatory scrutiny, complex market dynamics, and the responsibility to ensure financial stability.
Balancing profitability with ethical practices is a constant challenge, demanding strategic acumen and a thick skin. However, due to the pressures of the job, banking CEOs – and those in other sectors – are paid handsomely for their work, especially if they’re good at what they do.
This is evident in the big paydays the CEOs at the helm of South Africa’s biggest banks received in 2022 – including Investec, Capitec, Standard Bank, Absa, and Nedbank.
While all the CEOs of these banks earned jew-dropping salaries, one earned far more than the rest – the CEO of Investec Fani Titi. According to the group’s annual report for the year ended 31 March 2023, Titi’s single-figure earnings amounted to £7.5 million (R177.6 million). This works out to a whopping R486, 575 per day.
To put this into perspective, Titi earned almost three times more than the second highest-paid banking CEO, Capitec’s Gerrie Fourie, who earned R62.09 million and works out to around R170,109 per day.
Put another way, according to Stats SA’s latest quarterly employment survey (QES), the average formally-employed non-agricultural worker in South Africa earns R25,304 per month or R303,648 annually – meaning Titi earned 1.6 times the annual average wage in a single day.
However, it must be noted that Investec’s Directors are paid in Pound Sterling (£), meaning they earned considerably more when converted to the local currency, given the rand’s weakness.
Standard Bank CEO Sim Tshabalala earned the third highest pay at R55.69 million or R152,575 per day, while Absa’s Arrie Rautenbach and Nedbank’s Mike Brown are at the bottom – making R46.05 million and R43.6 million or R126,164 and R119,452 per day, respectively.
CEO salaries have increased exponentially
According to a study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute in 2021, over the past 45 years (since 1978), CEO compensation has increased by a staggering 1,460% – outstripping even the best-performing stock markets, including the S&P 500’s notable growth of 1,063% over the same period.
The study analysed the CEO earnings of the top 350 firms in the United States of America, using a “realised measure” that included stock awards when vested and stock options when cashed in and ownership is taken.
According to the report, CEOs are getting ever-higher pay over time because of their power to set pay and because so much of their salary is stock-related. Considering our South African banking CEO pay structure, this is not hard to believe.
According to Investec group’s annual report, Titi saw his long-term incentives rise by 191% from £1.6 million (R37.90 million) in 2022 to £4.8 million (R113 million).
Captitec’s CEO Fourie also received a long-term incentive (including vested awards) of R39.74 million as part of this salary. Standard Bank’s and Absa’s CEOs, Tshabalala and Rautenbach, also received deferred and performance awards.
Tshabalala received a deferred award of R10.65 million and a performance award of R25.8 million, and Rautenbach received a deferred award of R8.75 million and a performance award of R18.28 million.
Rautenbach’s pay, including vested awards, translated to an 82.7% increase from the R25.22 million he received in 2021.