In case you missed it, Jamie Dimon is getting a raise.
News broke late last week that JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) board had voted to increase the chairman and CEO's 2013 pay by 74%. Dimon – whose pay was cut last year to $11.5 million, following the London Whale scandal – is set to receive $18.5 million in restricted stock in addition to his $1.5 million base salary.
Now Bloomberg reports that Dimon might actually make another $34 million this year, should JPMorgan's board permit him to collect two million stock options originally granted in 2008.
This possibility and the board's initial decision elicited a certain amount of incredulity, given that over the last year, JPMorgan Chase has agreed to pay more than $20 billion in fines to settle various allegations of wrongdoing. Regulatory settlements address everything from the aforementioned Whale saga to energy market manipulation, crisis-era mortgage misdeeds and aiding and abetting Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme.
"What was the board thinking?"writes Fortune contributor Eleanor Bloxham. "That for every thousand dollars a company pays out in penalties … they should kick back a dollar to the CEO who helped make it possible?”
Some pundits argued that, beyond the settlements, JPMorgan's performance hardly justified the increase.
"Dimon's pay increased far faster than did the company's stock,"writes Reuters Breaking Views columnist Antony Currie. "JPMorgan's shares were up a third, just keeping pace with U.S. universal banking rivals. Core earnings also weren't anything to brag about. At $42 billion, before taxes and provisions and after adjusting for one-off items, according to Citigroup analysts, that represented a 2.4% decline from 2012.”
But Dimon's always had his fair share of supporters and other analysts felt criticism of the board's decision – and the CEO himself – was overblown
Per The Street's Dana Blankenhorn: "Dimon put together a $23 billion contingency fund to pay for JPMorgan Chase's legal liability following the 2008 meltdown, along with those of subsidiaries it bought, and the bank now seems to have gotten out of its legal jams for less than that figure.”
Reports indicate the JPMorgan board itself was divided over the issue, but ultimately elected to raise Dimon's pay after deciding that the bank's year would have been a whole lot worse had he not been at the helm. The Daily Beast's Joshua M. Brown championed this determination and went on to argue that, according to this logic, Dimon is actually underpaid.
"Any chief executive who can steer their firm toward $18 billion in annual profits while under investigation by seven federal agencies, dozens of state regulators and two other foreign countries is surely worth many multiples of a measly $18 million,"he writes.
Dimon certainly isn't the first CEO to receive a big paycheck following a less-than-stellar year. (As a Forbes column authored by American Banker Editor in Chief Neil Weinberg back in 2007 points out, former Bear Stearns CEO James E. Cayne earned $38 million in total compensation in 2006, even as his firm paid out a quarter-billion in fines.) But the JPMorgan chief's recent raise is sure to reignite debate over executive compensation and how bank CEOs should be judged.
Was Jamie Dimon's raise deserved? Why or why not? What factors should be used to determine an executive's compensation? Let us know in the comments section below.