CEO Compensation Up 9% in Survey

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Credit unions can expect to see executive salaries continue to rise as more CEOs either reach retirement age or start looking for other opportunities in a more stable economic environment, according to one HR expert.

HRValue Group CEO Yvonne Evers, who worked on CUES Executive Compensation Survey 2004, said that while people tend to stick with existing jobs in a weak or uncertain economy, a stable or strengthening economy gives people the confidence to consider a job change.

According to CUES' salary survey, salaries for credit union CEOs continue their steady rise, but not quite as quickly as they did the previous two years.

The median base salary for credit union CEOs rose 7.58% to $125,000, compared with a growth of 8% in 2003, 8.3% in 2002 and 8.1% in 2001.

The same was true of CEOs' combined base salary plus bonus and incentive pay, which increased by 9% in 2004, compared with 9.38% in 2003, 8.4% in 2002 and 9.7% in 2001.

The annual survey, administered by Survey Research Associates, Madison, Wis., is based on data supplied by 879 credit unions, including 58 with assets of more than $1 billion.

Other findings look at such compensation-related issues as leadership longevity. According to the data, 669 of the participating CEOs have spent 16 or more years working for credit unions. More than a quarter of the respondents said their credit unions have been led by the same CEO for the past 15 years or more.

A combination of the strengthening economy and the much-discussed "exodus" of top executives reaching retirement age in the next five to 10 years means credit unions can expect to see the trend toward higher pay continue, Evers offered, suggesting that many CEOs who held off leaving their position when the stock market dipped early in the decade may decide that now is a good time.

"I'm encouraging credit unions to make sure they have a very competitive compensation package for their CEOs if they really want to keep them on board."

Among the key findings:

  • Average total compensation for CEOs ranged from $69,733 for CUs with assets of $10 to $19.9 million to $366,640 for CUs with assets greater than $1 billion. The overall average was $162,312.
  • Only 15 credit union respondents-less than 2%-have CEOs have have been working in the credit union movement for fewer than five years, wioth 55% having CEOs what have been in the credit union movement for more than 20 years.

While CU executives tend to make more than their counterparts in a variety of other industries, bank executives continue to make more than their credit union counterparts.

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