South Africa’s Top Bank CEOs Earn Staggering Million-Dollar Salaries


In a testament to the financial prowess of South Africa’s banking sector, the chief executive officers (CEOs) of the country’s four major banks collectively earned a staggering R176 million over the last financial year. The figures were unveiled in PwC’s Major Banks Analysis Report, which scrutinized the financial performance of Standard Bank, Absa, FirstRand, and Nedbank, following their interim results in September. This article delves into the key findings of the report, highlighting the financial achievements of each bank and the substantial earnings of their CEOs.

Record-Breaking Earnings for ‘Big Four’ Banks: The report revealed that the combined headline earnings of the four major South African banks experienced a substantial 16.8% increase, reaching a remarkable R55.8 billion in the first half of 2023. This growth was attributed to several factors, including higher interest rates, balance sheet expansion, and the efficiency gains from digitalization of banking services.

Standard Bank Leads the Pack: Standard Bank, under the leadership of CEO Sim Tshabalala, demonstrated a particularly impressive financial performance. The bank’s total income soared by 18%, reaching R156.92 billion, up from R132.72 billion in 2021. Notably, headline earnings per share increased by a remarkable 33%, amounting to 2,087.1 cents, compared to 1,573 cents in the previous year.

Absa’s Robust Performance: Absa reported a strong financial performance, with revenue increasing by 15% to R98.9 billion. The bank also recorded a 13% growth in net interest income, rising to R60.5 billion, and an 18% increase in non-interest income, reaching R38.42 billion. The group’s headline earnings surged by 14% to R20.26 billion, compared to R17.83 billion in the previous year. Headline earnings per share for Absa stood at 2,443 cents.

Nedbank’s Resilience: Nedbank also showcased strong results, with headline earnings growing by 20% over the year, reaching R14 billion.

FirstRand’s Steady Growth: FirstRand, for the year ending June 2023, reported a 12% increase in headline earnings, totaling R36.7 billion, with net asset value up 10% to R180.7 billion.

Factors Driving Growth: PwC’s report attributed the substantial earnings growth of the ‘Big Four’ banks to various factors, including higher interest rates, balance sheet expansion, and efficiencies achieved through the digitalization of their services. Furthermore, market volatility played a role in boosting their trading revenues.

CEO Compensation in the Spotlight: In a notable aspect of the report, the CEOs of these major banks received substantial compensation packages for their roles in steering their institutions to financial success.

Sim Tshabalala, the CEO of Standard Bank, earned the highest CEO compensation among the four banks, amounting to R55.69 million. This figure represented a 12.7% increase from his pre-Covid 2019 earnings. Tshabalala’s compensation comprised a fixed salary of R10.5 million and a cash incentive of R8.65 million, in addition to a deferred award of R10.65 million and a performance award vested at R25.8 million. This translated to a staggering daily earning of around R152,575.

Arrie Rautenbach, the CEO of Absa, was the second-highest-paid CEO, with earnings of R46.05 million in 2022, signifying an 82.7% increase from the previous year. His compensation package consisted of a fixed salary of R9.28 million, a cash incentive of R9.75 million, a deferred award of R8.75 million, and a performance award vested at R18.28 million. Rautenbach earned approximately R126,164 per day.

Mike Brown, the CEO of Nedbank, ranked third with a total package of R43.6 million for the year. This included a guaranteed salary of R9.6 million, a cash bonus of R17 million (with R9 million delivered in shares), and a short-term incentive payout of R17 million. Brown’s executive pay translated to around R119,452 per day.

Alan Pullinger, the CEO of FirstRand, was the ‘least paid’ among the Big Four executives, receiving a total pay package of R31.55 million. His remuneration comprised a guaranteed pay of R10.17 million, short-term annual incentives (STIs) of R14.95 million, and long-term share options settled under the Covid-19 scheme during the financial year, amounting to R6.42 million.

It’s important to note that First National Bank (FNB) is a division of FirstRand, and RMB is part of the FNB Group, which explains the inclusion of their CEOs’ salaries. Notably, FNB CEO Jacques Celliers earned R31.92 million in 2023, slightly more than Pullinger.

Conclusion: The PwC Major Banks Analysis Report sheds light on the exceptional financial performance of South Africa’s ‘Big Four’ banks in 2023, driven by various factors including digitalization and market dynamics. Additionally, the substantial CEO compensation figures underscore the significant responsibilities and accomplishments of these bank leaders in steering their institutions to success in a dynamic and challenging financial landscape. The report provides valuable insights for those interested in the South African financial sector, personal finance, and the banking industry.

Certainly, here’s a table providing a snapshot of the CEO compensation at South Africa’s ‘Big Four’ banks:

CEO Compensation in 2023

BankCEOTotal Compensation (R Millions)Composition of CompensationDaily Earnings (R)
Standard BankSim Tshabalala55.69Fixed Salary: R10.5M, Cash Incentive: R8.65M, Deferred Award: R10.65M, Performance Award: R25.8MR152,575
AbsaArrie Rautenbach46.05Fixed Salary: R9.28M, Cash Incentive: R9.75M, Deferred Award: R8.75M, Performance Award: R18.28MR126,164
NedbankMike Brown43.6Guaranteed Salary: R9.6M, Cash Bonus: R17M, Short-Term Incentive: R17MR119,452
FirstRandAlan Pullinger31.55Guaranteed Pay: R10.17M, Short-Term Incentives: R14.95M, Long-Term Share Options: R6.42MVaried (Approx. R86,575)



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