Credit Suisse's Chief Executive Brady Dougan took one of the biggest hits in his 2011 paycheck of any chief executive at a major global bank, the Swiss bank's annual report revealed Friday.
Dougan's compensation more than halved to 5.8 million Swiss francs ($6.3 million) from 12.8 million francs a year earlier. Like all of Credit Suisse's top managers, he didn't get a cash bonus. While Dougan's base salary remained unchanged, his bonus, awarded in the form of deferred stocks, fell 69% to reflect the sharp drop in profits last year and the 41% drop in Credit Suisse's share price in 2011.
The bank's overall bonus pool also fell last year, as pressure on banks to keep compensation high to retain top talent abated, with most big institutions slashing bonuses this year. The cuts are also a result of public criticism over bankers' remuneration.
At Credit Suisse, bonuses fell 41% across the group, but total compensation declined only 18% as the bank paid higher fixed salaries to retain staff. The decline in the bonus pool was on a par with Swiss peer UBS AG, which was hit by a rogue trading scandal that cost the bank more than $2 billion last year.
In the U.S., Wall Street cash bonuses likely fell 14% for 2011. New York securities firms are set to pay employees $19.7 billion in cash bonuses, down from $22.8 billion in 2010, according to a report by New York state's comptroller.
In many European countries, political tension has mounted over how to address discontent over pay. Swiss voters will later this year decide on an initiative that aims to restrict excessive salaries. If accepted, top management salaries will need to win shareholders' approval at a yearly vote on pay.
The debate on top pay is also fierce in the U.K., where the focus is on striking a balance between addressing discontent over pay and ensuring the country continues to attract top bankers.
Credit Suisse is emerging as one of the first banks upon which this public debate is having a visible impact, with its chief executive taking a noticeably smaller paycheck than some of his peers.
Outgoing Deutsche Bank AG Chief Executive Josef Ackermann's compensation increased to €10.1 million ($13.3 million) from €8.9 million in 2010.
Sergio Ermotti, who took over as chief executive at UBS Sept. 24 after heading the bank's Europe, Middle East, and Africa operations since April, received total compensation for the year of 6.4 million francs, including a bonus.
Among other banks, Barclays PLC cut Chief Executive Bob Diamond's combined salary and bonus by a third to £6.3 million ($10 million) for 2011. Yet his total compensation got an additional boost, as Barclays picked up a huge tax bill on his behalf, bringing his total pay award to around £14.8 million for the year.
At Credit Suisse, the highest paid employee was Robert Shafir, chief executive of its asset management unit, who received 8.5 million francs in recognition of his success in repositioning the unit to focus on growing fee-based revenue and for cutting costs.
This story first appeared on WSJ.com.