Wells Fargo Chief Makes $21.3 Million

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Wells Fargo (WFC) CEO John Stumpf made $21.3 million last year, up from a mere $8.8 million in 2008, according to the preliminary proxy the bank filed with the SEC on March 3. The four executives under him, including the chief financial officer, the head of wealth management, the chief of wholesale banking and the head of consumer finance, made an average of $13 million. Stumpf's cash compensation was over $5 million, and he also received nearly $45,000 in perquisites.

Welcome to the world after TARP repayment, and less than two years after the credit crisis nearly brought the U.S. banking system to it knees.

The Wells Fargo board might argue that its CEO posted strong-enough results for the firm's stock to be up 250% during the last year, but that's no better the the improvement in Citigroup's (C) shares, and well below the run-up in Bank of America (BAC). Advocates of Stumpf's pay package might argue that he deserves his compensation simply because Wells Fargo is still around and several other large banks and investment banks are not.

The Obama administration and Congress are still considering significant restrictions on bank activity, including the Volcker rule, which would sharply limit proprietary trading. If bank executives had taken more modest pay, that doesn't necessarily mean politicians wouldn't be as aggressive in "punishing" financial firms with greater oversight. But paying a bank CEO $21 million certainly doesn't help.
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