Bank bonuses: next up, JPMorgan

JPMorgan's chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon stands to earn $17m this year - and that doesn't include his salary, bonuses or perks. At least he's running a bank that's making money...

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 18 Mar 2011
The enviable sum comes in the form of a range of shares and options, which it’s believed will make up the majority of his deal. We can imagine his tasty haul will only stoke the annual furore about bank bonuses, but of all the banks JPMorgan has possibly the best comeback for the critics: its profits hit $17.4bn in 2010.

Given that level of performance, you can expect Dimon’s pay to come in above that of his peers on this side of the pond. Over here all eyes are on April, when the Treasury select committee’s plan to reveal just how much loot is being doled out to our top bankers is set to kick in.

Dimon also scores brownie points for refusing his bonus. This year’s will be his first in three years. If anyone’s earned it, he has: in 2010, JPMorgan’s net income rose 48% to $17.4bn, with earnings per share up 75%. Over at Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein is on for $12.6m-worth of stock as part of his 2010 bonus. Not bad considering the bank’s profits plummeted and its reputation was hit by scraps with regulators and politicians.

With profits back on the up, the banks clearly feel that the environment has mellowed sufficiently to be dishing out the cheques again. Over here the Government will be hoping that mood is massaged further by its Project Merlin deal - in which it cleared the way for big bonuses as long as banks upped their lending to small businesses.

But it’s not going to be PR plain sailing. Passions are still running high – note how Barclays felt the need to dedicate an entire statement to the sole issue of bonuses when it released its results earlier this week. Also note the departure of Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Lord Oakeshott, over what he saw as the chancellor’s failure to tackle the bonus issue square-on. ‘If this is robust action on bonuses then I’m Bob Diamond,’ he said. If that’s the case then he could be on for a £9m bonus this year.

The bank bonus issue isn’t going anywhere in a hurry, and things will only hot up again come April when, if the Treasury select committee has its way, the FSA will reveal the pay of top staff at nine of the City’s biggest banks.

As the FSA has pointed out, technically the Treasury select committee doesn’t have the power to get the banks to reveal such information - the financial institutions will have to comply of their own accord. Strain your ear towards the City and you can almost hear the calls reversing Ed Balls’ attack on Mervyn King: that these politicians should stay out of banking…

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