BNY Mellon chief's total pay jumps 23%
Bank of New York Mellon's embattled CEO Gerald Hassell got a 23 percent bump in total compensation in 2014, taking home $11.7 million during a year in which bank management came under fire from Wall Street for not doing enough to boost revenue and cut costs.
Hassell's base compensation, disclosed in a regulatory filing late Friday, stayed the same at $1 million as in 2013, when he earned total compensation of $9.5 million. The $2.2 million increase came from additional stock awards and pension. The total was still well below the $13.8 million he was paid in 2012.
The bank filed the proxy just days after one of its largest investors called for Hassell's firing, and a month before the bank's annual meeting April 14.
It has been a challenging year for Hassell, 63, who faced increased pressure from Wall Street to improve the bank's performance. On Tuesday, activist hedge fund Marcato Capital pushed for Hassell to be ousted as CEO, a position he has held since 2011, because its leaders believe the bank was not achieving its potential. That came nearly a year since Hassell beat back an attempt from angry shareholders to strip him of his dual titles of chairman and CEO at the bank's annual meeting.
Some experts have said removing the CEO would do more harm than good for the bank, and Hassell appears to have the support of another activist hedge fund, Nelson Peltz's Trian Partners.
BNY Mellon gave a board seat last year to Trian founding partner Ed Garden, who this week rebuffed Marcato founder Mick McGuire's call to fire Hassell.
“I have been on the BNY Mellon Board for about three months,” Garden said Tuesday in an emailed statement. “I am encouraged by the board's reaction to our ideas and management's sense of urgency in achieving significant operation improvement.”
Spokespeople for Trian and Marcato declined to comment on Hassell's salary Friday.
BNY Mellon has not moved as aggressively as Wall Street would like to cut costs and improve its financial performance. It has contained costs through layoffs and lowered overall staff expense by 7 percent from a year ago. The bank has shrunk its real estate footprint, as well. It sold its Manhattan headquarters last year and has put Citizens Bank Tower in Pittsburgh on the market.
But the world's largest custody bank has struggled to improve revenue amid low interest rates. Revenue barely budged in the fourth quarter and was up 4 percent for the year, to $15.7 billion.
Analyst Marty Mosby said this week that firing Hassell would be premature, but he should be held accountable for the bank's lower performance.
“He should personally take a lot of pressure for this,” said Mosby, of Vining Sparks. “It's up to him now. He's been in there long enough to turn the ship.”
Chris Fleisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.