Financial Advisor IQ: ‘Peculiar Year’ for CEO Pay at Morgan Stanley, Wells, BofA: Comp Consultant

February 22, 2021

Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman’s total direct compensation — his salary plus his cash bonus and long-term incentives — jumped 22% to $33 million, according to the bank’s Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure.

It was “a very interesting environment in banking because interest rates were so low, yet the stock market went down, and up again, and ended up being pretty robust,” says Robin Ferracone, CEO and founder of Farient Advisors, an executive compensation firm.

“Depending upon [a bank’s] business mix, you had very different outcomes. The companies that were geared as commercial banks had a lot of pressure because of the low interest rates, and then those organizations that were much more geared toward wealth management, like Morgan Stanley, did so well,” Ferracone says.

“Wealth management was a sector that held up and it held up because when the market went down, people needed to know what to do with their portfolios,” she says. But then when the markets rose, so did wealth management clients’ portfolios and fees paid, she adds.

But the Wells Fargo and BofA CEOs also received credit for working through the pandemic-related challenges of 2020, Ferracone says.

“They were doing really well on other things. They had to get a tremendous number of PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] loans written, and they had to, you know, close branches and keep people safe, and they had to still serve their customers, and they needed to do all the other things that they have on their agendas in terms of the health of the stakeholders,” she says.

by Miriam Rozen

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About Robin Ferracone

Founder and CEO, Farient Advisors/GECN Group

New York: (646) 626-6931
Los Angeles: (626) 799-2700

As the founder and CEO of Farient Advisors LLC, Robin has led the strategic development and expansion of the executive compensation, performance, and corporate governance advisory firm. Her client work focuses on providing high-impact decision-making support and organizational solutions based on insightful market insights.

With over 30 years of consulting experience, Robin advises clients in business and talent strategies, executive compensation, organization, value management, and performance measurement. She is the author of Fair Pay Fair Play: Aligning Executive Performance and Pay (John Wiley & Sons, 2010). In addition, Robin has authored numerous articles, is a regular contributor to and Directorship magazine, and is often quoted in national publications. She is a frequent presenter for prominent organizations such as the Council of Institutional Investors, Society for Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals, the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), and The Conference Board.

Robin formerly served on the board of directors of Trupanion, Inc., where she chaired the compensation committee. In addition, Robin is a trustee emeritus of Duke University. She currently chairs the board of WildAid and is a member of 5050 Women on Boards, NACD, Women Corporate Directors, YPO Gold, and the Trusteeship. For 12 years, Robin has been named to the NACD Directorship 100, a list of the most influential people in corporate governance and the boardroom. In 2014, she was selected as one of EY’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women, an annual competition recognizing female entrepreneurs. Robin is also a founding partner of the Global Governance and Executive Compensation (GECN) Group collectively serving clients in more than 35 countries across five continents.

Robin received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in management science and economics from Duke University.

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