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American Express’ Ken Chenault Sees His Salary Slashed

Well, given that American Express’ stock performance over the last year and half might be best described with the phrase “arterial bleeding,” it is really not all that surprising that the firm’s CEO took a haircut on his pay. The 26 percent hit his paycheck took, however, indicates just how not happy his board is about that hemorrhage of dollars.

The cut takes Chenault’s pay down to its lowest level since 2008.

The good news for the American Express CEO? He won’t be starving, since his board did award him $18.5 million for 2015, according to a Monday (March 21) filing. Chenault has been one of financial services’ highest-paid chief executives; In 2014, he received $25.1 million in compensation.

Chenault has presided over the very difficult last year that has seen the firm lose over a third of its share price as net income has declined sharply by 12 percent.

“We recognize that our 2015 performance was disappointing,” Chenault told investors during an annual presentation on March 10. “I can assure you: We’re not standing still.”

CEO compensation varies at different financial institutions: Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase was paid $27 million for last year, Goldman Sach’s Lloyd Blankfein clocked in at $23 million and Morgan Stanley’s James Gorman got $21 million. Chenault, at a little over $18 million, can comfort himself that he still outearned both Citigroup’s Mike Corbat and Bank of America’s Brian T. Moynihan, who received $16.5 million and $16 million, respectively.

“While compensation did come down quite a bit, it’s still high relative to the company’s subpar performance in 2015,” said William Ryan, an analyst at Portales Partners LLC, who rates the stock sector perform. “Investors have lost a lot of confidence in the leadership at American Express, and, obviously, his ability to get the company back on track in 2017 will be key to restoring confidence in his abilities.”


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