The slump in mortgage lending has taken a heavy toll on executive paychecks.
Some top mortgage executives saw their bonuses disappear entirely last year as rising interest rates battered lending volume and net income, according to a review of recently filed proxy statements.
The bonuses of John F. Farrell Jr., chairman of North American Mortgage Co., and Terrance G. Hodel, its president, were chopped to zero from more than $800,000 each in 1993.
Jess Hay, chairman of Lomas Financial Corp., also received no bonus, down from $360,000 in 1993. William Kirschenbaum, chairman of Hamilton Financial Services Corp., took a zero bonus after receiving $115,000 in 1993.
Even executives who continued to get bonuses received substantially less than in the previous year. As a result, total compensation for top mortgage executives was uniformly down.
The main culprit last year was a nearly 25% decline in originations industrywide. With thrifts taking increasing market share, the mortgage banking companies were hit even harder, often having drops in volume of 40% to 50%.
Company profits - and hence executive pay - tumbled as originations income fell and companies absorbed the costs of cutting staff and closing offices, said Carl D. Jacobs, a Woodland Hills, Calif., consultant.
Based on proxy statements filed so far, the highest-paid mortgage executive of 1994 was Salomon Levis, chairman and chief executive of Financial Carribbean Corp., San Juan, Puerto Rico.
He received a salary bonus totaling $2.4 million. That, however, was down sharply from 1993's eye-popping $7.9 million. The decline reflected some voluntary reductions by Mr. Levis, including a 30% cut in his salary for the last four months of the year.
After Mr. Levis, the highest-paid executives were David W. Johnson Jr. and Lee E. Shelton, each a vice chairman at Resource Bancshares Mortgage Group, Columbia, S.C. Each pulled in $1.4 million in salary, bonus, and other annual compensation.
Again, however, those paychecks were off sharply from the levels of 1993. Mr. Johnson and Mr. Shelton each saw their bonus plunge by more than 40%, to $762,878.
Countrywide Credit Industries, the nation's largest mortgage bank, has yet to file its proxy statement. But the company's executives are traditionally among the industry's top earners.
David S. Loeb, Countrywide's chairman, and Angelo Mozilo, vice chairman, each earned about $3.1 million in the fiscal year ended Feb. 28, 1994, making them the highest paid for 1993 after Mr. Levis.
Mr. Jacobs, the consultant, said compensation plans may be reevaluated by mortgage companies to tie key executives to longer-term profits. Some companies would rather give executives incentive to build a company capable of withstanding the industry's volatile nature.
"They don't want the executives to ride the economic waves of the current quarter," Mr. Jacobs said.