Survey shows banks refocus on their talent

Crowe releases findings from its 2015 Financial Institutions Compensation Survey


CHICAGO (Sept. 15, 2015) Actual salary increases for bank employees in 2015 were higher than projected salary increases, according to the Crowe Horwath LLP 2015 Financial Institutions Compensation Survey. Crowe, one of the largest public accounting, consulting and technology firms in the U.S., conducts the annual survey, now in its 34th year. The survey, which compiled data from 296 financial institutions, also shows salary benchmarks for 239 job positions.

In the 2014 survey, it was projected that officers would receive 2.8 percent raises in 2015, but their pay increased 3.05 percent in 2015. Nonofficers’ pay was predicted to increase 2.75 percent, but it increased 2.89 percent. According to Tim Reimink, a director in Crowe Performance Consulting, as the economy improved and banks became more concerned about their talent, they rewarded their employees with better-than-projected salary increases.

“Several of this year’s survey results indicate a shift regarding what banks need to do to retain and reward their employees. Talent is becoming a higher priority once again,” said Reimink.

For the first time in recent years, developing employees was a top-three concern among human resource professionals. Also, for the third year in a row, finding and hiring the right employees was the most significant concern, with more than 98 percent of survey participants placing it as their top concern. Containing costs fell to sixth on the list for the first time since 2010. Reimink noted that the shifting of priorities from containing costs to developing employees is evidence that the industry has recovered sufficiently and now is focused on becoming more effective and competitive.

Other key survey findings include:

  • Since last year, bank CEOs received only a 0.13 percent increase in total compensation, comprised of both base salary and discretionary pay, such as bonuses. According to Reimink, this is directly tied to the banks’ overall performance. “2014 wasn’t a major year for growth in the banking sector; in fact, not much has changed since 2013, so it’s not surprising that CEO pay was in line with last year’s,” he said.
  • Chief Internal Auditors had the largest one-year decrease in base salary at slightly more than 13 percent and the largest one-year decrease in total compensation at almost 14.5 percent. Reimink noted that this may be due to banks being focused more on other areas of risk management, such as compliance, anti-money laundering and information security.
  • The role of Personal Banker I, an entry-level position, saw a decrease of approximately 6 percent in total compensation since last year and slightly more than a 10 percent decrease in total compensation over the five-year period. “There are fewer people visiting bank branches, so fewer entry-level positions are needed to serve customers. If banks are hiring personal bankers, they’re doing so at the more experienced level,” Reimink said.
  • Licensed Investment Representatives had the largest growth in total compensation over the five-year period at almost 60 percent, but their total compensation since last year actually decreased by about 1 percent. According to Reimink, five years ago, coming out of the recession, investment activity greatly declined and as a result, so did representatives’ pay. As market activity increased in the years that followed, representatives’ pay increased as well. However, there wasn’t a large increase in investment activity this year, which is why one-year compensation remains flat.
  • The position with the largest one-year growth rate in base salary was Residential Mortgage Loan Officer II, with an average increase of nearly 53 percent. This is partially due to regulatory changes in how mortgage originators can be compensated. Furthermore, Reimink added, “Banks want to offer mortgages to their customers that are in the customers’ best interest. Moving toward a higher base salary allows banks to retain top talent in this area, regardless of market fluctuations,” he said.
  • Many traditionally exempt classified positions, such as branch manager, credit analyst and internal auditor, are paid below the proposed salary threshold of $50,440, announced by the Department of Labor in its pending Fair Labor Standards Act overtime exemption rule. Reimink noted that the outcome of this proposal will impact compensation decisions for many banks in the near future.
  • Nonofficer turnover for banks with more than $1 billion in assets declined 3.2 percent in the past year, and nonofficer turnover at banks with less than $1 billion declined 1.8 percent. “As employees were rewarded with higher pay and better training, they were less likely to look for jobs elsewhere. People are feeling more comfortable in their positions than they did during the recession,’ said Reimink.


In addition to compensation trends, the survey also looked at employee benefit costs. Total benefit costs as a percentage of base salary increased 8 percent in the past year to a total cost of 26.8 percent. Increases in healthcare and retirement benefit costs led to the increase. Health insurance benefit costs increased by nearly 4 percent to 16.5 percent, and retirement costs increased by 3.5 percentage points to 8.5 percent.

“Passing on benefit costs to employees is a trend we’ve seen each year since the recession, as banks deal with the same benefit cost increases that other industries are dealing with. This year, more than 60 percent of banks are planning to contain benefit costs by increasing employee costs such as deductibles, premiums and copayments,” said Pat Cole, a senior manager in Crowe Tax Services who specializes in human resource consulting.

In addition to the national survey, Crowe prepared a regional compensation report for the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast regions, as well as state reports for Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio and Texas.

For more information on the survey findings, including an infographic, please visit

About the 2015 Crowe Horwath LLP Financial Institutions Compensation Survey
The 2015 Crowe Horwath LLP Financial Institutions Compensation Survey was completed by 296 financial institutions. Using data as of March 31, 2015, the participant breakdown is as follows: 96 institutions had less than $250 million in total assets; 100 had between $250 million and $500 million in total assets; 55 had between $500 million and $999 million in total assets; 32 had between $1 billion and $2.5 billion in total assets; and 13 had more than $2.5 billion in total assets.

About Crowe Horwath
Crowe Horwath LLP ( is one of the largest public accounting, consulting and technology firms in the United States. Under its core purpose of “Building Value with Values®,” Crowe uses its deep industry expertise to provide audit services to public and private entities while also helping clients reach their goals with tax, advisory, risk and performance services. With offices coast to coast and 3,000 personnel, Crowe is recognized by many organizations as one of the country's best places to work. Crowe serves clients worldwide as an independent member of Crowe Horwath International, one of the largest global accounting networks in the world. The network consists of more than 200 independent accounting and advisory services firms in more than 120 countries around the world.

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