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Financial sector paid more than $1.2 billion to top execs

THE big five banks targeted as part of the Turnbull Government's financial sector crackdown paid senior executives more than $1.2 billion in wages and bonuses in the past five years, new data has revealed.

In a move which will further sour the relationship between the banks and Canberra, senior executives at the big banks will be licenced by the financial regulator APRA and could be sacked or lose their bonus if they misbehave.

Macquarie Group MD Nicholas Moore is the highest paid banking boss in Australia with a pay packet of more than $18 million.
Macquarie Group MD Nicholas Moore is the highest paid banking boss in Australia with a pay packet of more than $18 million. Hollie Adams

Bank bosses at the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, National Australia Bank, ANZ and Macquarie will have their wages monitored and lucrative bonuses will be frozen under a radical new plan announced on Budget night.

A new analysis provided to The Sunday Telegraph reveals the five banks in the firing line spent more than $1 billion on their top directors and executives in the past five years, including more than $284 million in the 2015-16 financial year.

Macquarie Bank topped the list, paying a whopping $456 million to its senior executives over the past five years. The bank's boss Nicholas Moore is the highest paid banking boss in Australia with a pay packet of more than $18 million.

Commonwealth Bank was the second biggest spender on senior staff, forking out more than $217 million to executives in the past five years.

Bank bosses at Westpac shared more than $216 million in the past five years; more than $191 went to senior staff at ANZ and $153 million at NAB.

Under the new regime, executives will have 40 per cent of their variable pay - and 60 per cent for chief executives - deferred for four years to ensure banks are making long-term decisions.

Australian Institute of Company Directors General Manager Advocacy Louise Petschler slammed the move describing it as an "intrusive regulatory approach with unprecedented Government powers to monitor recruitment and pay.

"Extensive consultation will be required with the industry to avoid unintended consequences," Ms Petschler told The Sunday Telegraph.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said its Banking Executive Accountability Regime will ensure banks and their executives are held accountable when they fail to meet expectations.

"Bank executives in key roles will have to be registered and if they muck up they'll be deregistered," Mr Morrison said.

"That means they can't carry their problems to another bank and their bonuses can be pulled back, and this is all modelled on a very similar system that has been working properly in the United Kingdom."

The populist move comes after a series of scandals involving the banks and Labor's relentless push for an electorally-popular royal commission into the sector.

annika.smethurst@news.com.au

@annikasmethurst

Topics:  big banks editors picks

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