August 3, 2015 / 4:21 PM / 4 years ago

Rising profits at big U.S. banks boost executive pay: KBW

The corporate logo of financial firm Morgan Stanley is pictured on the company's world headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, January 20, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Segar

(Reuters) - Top executives at big U.S. banks received fatter paychecks last year as profits rose, brokerage Keefe, Bruyette & Woods (KBW) said on Monday.

Compensation for top executives rose 26 percent at these banks as reported earnings increased 2.6 percent on average on a per-share basis, KBW said, adding that the pay rise was consistent with the increase in profits.

Top executives in the banking sector are beginning to reap the reward for steering their firms in the aftermath of the financial crisis and putting them back on the path to profitability.

In the most recent quarter, five of the six top Wall Street banks reported record earnings even though most of it was due to cost cutting and lower legal expenses.

Total compensation for all top U.S. banks rose in 2014 with the exception of Citigroup Inc (C.N), KBW analysts wrote in a note.

Average pay increase was the most at Morgan Stanley (MS.N), while Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) paid the most to its top five officers, the analysts wrote.

Trust banks and Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) were at the lower end of the pay range.

Banks with significant exposure to trading pay more on average, compared with those that have little trading or have more of a traditional bank focus, analysts said in the note.

Hefty bonuses have been blamed for contributing to the 2008/09 financial crisis. Banks have since changed pay structures, but many politicians and shareholders say the industry needs to do more.

Reporting by Anil D'Silva in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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