Seventeen top executives of Belgian banks had earnings of more than one million euros in 2019, according to the latest figures from the European Banking Authority (EBA).
Most of the Belgian bankers received a total package of between €1 million and €2 million, but three were paid €2-€3 million, and one received €3-€4 million in that year.
And if that seems generous, one banker in the UK received remuneration of €64-€65 million for one single year. That person was the only one in that pay bracket in the entire survey.
The number of banking millionaires went up slightly in 2019 compared to the year before, from 4,938 to 4,963 – 3,519 of them in the UK alone. Whether that overwhelming ratio in favour of the City of London will hold up in the post-Brexit world will have to await future reports.
“An increase in the number of high earners was observed in particular in Germany (from 450 in 2018 to 492 in 2019, +9.33%), in France (from 234 in 2018 to 270 in 2019, +15.38%) and in Italy (from 206 in 2018 to 241 in 2019, +16.99%),” the report says.
“The increase in high earners resulted mostly from the impact of the relocation of staff from the UK to EU27 as part of Brexit preparations.”
One particular feature of executive remuneration, in banking as in other professions, is the ratio of fixed to variable income. Fixed income is subject to a sliding scale of taxation, so it is in an executive’s interest to keep that portion down while making more from variable remuneration – performance bonuses, among other instruments.
In 2018, variable income was 139% of the fixed portion on average; that moved down to 129% in 2019.
“This results from a strong increase in the number of high earners in Member States where, in general, lower levels of the ratio between variable to fixed remuneration can be observed,” the report says.
“This is particularly the case in Germany, where the average ratio is only 59%. Due to this, the strong increase in the number of high earners in Germany in 2018 and 2019 led to the overall reduction of the average ratio in the EU27.”
Belgium’s top banking executive earner, incidentally, works in investment banking, and received €1,396,829 in fixed income and €2,300,078 in variable remuneration, for a total of €3,696,907. The person in question has not been identified.