What you're willing to spend on new talent is the price you pay to compete in financial services today, and it could very well cast the dye for your institution's prosperity in coming years. Thankfully, an increasing number of bank CEOs recognize that talent has a price, and meeting it can arguably generate more revenue than is worth nickel-and- diming someone over.

True, we're not talking about wooden nickels here. In most cases, compensation for senior executives is in the mind-boggling millions, once you figure in stock options and bonuses (see cover story, p. 8). If you eyeball the numbers, compensation levels for commercial bank CEOs are beginning to look like that of Wall Street. If you're a banker, this is encouraging, to say the least. But compensation levels just scratch the surface of what's emerging for banks in their search to recruit-seemingly at any price-financial services talent.

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