JPMorgan shareholders approve executive pay, fewer votes than last year

CHICAGO (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co said on Tuesday that only 72% of shareholder votes approved its executive compensation packages, marking unusual opposition to pay for the bank’s top leaders.

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About 93% supported JPMorgan’s executive pay last year.

JPMorgan Chase also said all of its directors were elected, and that a shareholder proposal that the bank report annually on its global gender pay gap was voted down, according to preliminary tallies.

The votes were taken at the bank’s annual shareholder meeting at its offices in Chicago.

Around 29% of shareholder votes supported a proposal asking for more details on gender pay equity in the United States and some 28% of votes were in favor of a proposal aimed at easing shareholders’ access to proxy voting rights.

ISS, the influential proxy advisory group, urged investors to vote against the bank’s executive pay packages in a report published earlier this month because it objected to the portion of pay that was discretionary.

ISS advised investors to vote against the board’s pay packages for the bank’s top brass, including Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, twice before in 2011 and 2015, also over concerns about the portion of pay that was discretionary.

Dimon, who has led the bank since 2005, received a total of $31 million in compensation for the year 2018.

The bank’s board of directors had recommended that shareholders vote for executive compensation, and lead independent director Lee Raymond said the development and assessment of compensation was the board’s “top priority.”

“We believe our performance-based incentive program and our balanced approach ... effectively align executive comp and shareholder value,” Raymond said, adding that the board will consider shareholders’ feedback.

Dimon was peppered with questions during the meeting from climate change activists who criticized the bank’s funding of pipeline projects. The meeting was momentarily disrupted by protesters who chanted “Defund climate change, stop funding fossil fuels.”

Wells Fargo analyst Mike Mayo asked the board and Dimon about the bank’s leadership succession plan. “JPMorgan has key man risk - that’s you,” Mayo said, indicating Dimon.

“If I was hit by that truck ... we have people who are quite capable who can run this company. There are more than one. There are several who can do it,” Dimon said. “Our bigger fear is that they get recruited away by somebody else because they are very talented.”

JPMorgan shares added 0.2 percent to $111.54.

Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts in Chicago and by Matt Scuffham in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Tom Brown