Business

Traders beat Wall Street CEOs in pay

Pat McMahon Contributor

Many Wall Street chief executives took a big pay cut for 2009. But their real value may have been in deflecting attention from their troops—who enjoyed the largest collective payday on record.

Across Wall Street, leading firms paid out $140 billion in compensation and benefits, the highest number in history, based on a final tally of the pay disclosures at 38 financial-services firms. That figure, which was projected earlier by The Wall Street Journal, represented an increase from $123 billion earned by financial professionals in 2008 and $137 billion in 2007.

Wall Street paid $140 billion in compensation for 2009. Although CEOs took a big pay cut, their real value may have been deflecting attention from their troops, who enjoyed the largest collective payday on record. Aaron Lucchetti discusses.

The numbers for CEO pay, now under scrutiny by the media and Congress, show a far different picture. Among the 18 companies that have filed year-end proxy statements, their compensation is off about 30% from 2008.

Executive pay “is under a microscope,” says Steven Eckhaus, a partner specializing in compensation at law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman.

Full story: Traders Beat Wall Street CEOs in Pay – WSJ.com