Tax Reform, Tech Changes and Labor Market Affect Bank Salaries

September 12 — Bank salaries reflect the industry’s changing priorities, according to data from the Crowe 2018 Bank Compensation and Benefits Survey. In the past year, median salaries for chief human resource officers increased more than 7 percent, while top retail banking officers’ median pay decreased more than 7 percent.

“As bank rethink the way they operate branch networks, top retail banking positions seem to be decreasing in value,” said Timothy Reimink, one of Crowe’s financial services performance consulting group’s managing directors. “On the other hand, the upward shift in top human resource functions indicates that banks are putting a high priority on finding and retaining the right talent in this competitive labor market.”

Findings from the Crowe 2018 Bank Compensation and Benefits Survey (PRNewsfoto/Crowe LLP)


Recruiting and retaining millennials, the largest generation in the U.S. population, is top of mind for many banks. Just over half of the banks surveyed said retaining young talent was either very challenging or somewhat challenging, but only 19 percent had developed a specific strategy for attracting and retaining them. The most common issues respondents reported in attracting millennials were compensation, job flexibility and promotion opportunities. Reimink noted that banks with strategies in place that give millennial candidates clear expectations of their roles and future growth opportunities are better suited for long-term success.

Findings from the Crowe 2018 Bank Compensation and Benefits Survey (PRNewsfoto/Crowe LLP)


This year’s survey asked institutions about their responses to pay disparity between men and women. Forty-nine percent of institutions took action to address the rising issue of gender pay differences, with the most common action being an analysis of those differences. Other responses included maintaining a structured compensation guide, monitoring through an affirmative action plan and attending various training sessions and conferences.

Findings from the Crowe 2018 Bank Compensation and Benefits Survey (PRNewsfoto/Crowe LLP)


Additionally, banks were asked about the impact of the recent federal tax overhaul on bank pay practices. Nine percent reported that they adjusted base salaries, and the same amount gave bonuses or one-time payments as a result of the bill.

Other key survey findings include:

  • CEO median salaries increased 0.7 percent since last year, for a compound 4.2-percent increase over the past two years. Reimink noted that changes to CEO compensation often align to bank profitability, so the limited increases reflect a stable environment for bank profits.
  • Chief information officer median salaries had an above-average one-year increase of 6.2 percent, for a compound 11.9-percent increase over the past two years. As many banks evolve their focus from branches toward online banking, IT-related positions should continue to grow in importance.
  • Several lower-level positions saw higher-than-average annual increases in their median salaries, including entry-level tellers (5 percent), data entry/item processing clerks (5 percent) and new accounts representatives (4.5 percent). Reimink noted these percentage increases are likely the result of competition for talent within the banking industry and competition with other industries looking for entry-level talent, such as retail and technology.
  • Seventy-seven percent of respondents have a documented succession plan in place for CEO and executives, up from 63 percent last year. This increase suggests the growing importance of being prepared for the exit of executives as baby boomers near retirement, including having a smooth transition with transparent expectations.
  • Similarly, institutions with organized board member recruitment efforts rose from 39 percent reported in 2017 to 48 percent presently.

Employee turnover has increased significantly over the past eight years. According to this year’s survey, officer turnover increased by 0.5 percent and nonofficer turnover increased more than 3 percent in 2018 alone.

“With the U.S. unemployment rate at a record low, employees have access to more variety and options for jobs,” said Patrick Cole, a specialist in human resources consulting for Crowe. “Officers likely have a lower turnover rate because they are more invested in the company and are incentivized to remain with their organization. Additionally, larger institutions have seen higher turnover rates over the past year, which might be a result of greater difficulty with communication and employee engagement due to the size of their operations.”

Crowe’s survey was compiled from data from 420 banks and shows salary and bonus benchmarks for 263 job positions as well as information on benefits, incentives, director compensation and human resource practices. In addition to the national survey, Crowe prepared regional compensation reports for the Midwest, Northeast, South Central and Southeast regions, as well as state reports for Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas. For more information, click here.

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