Bonus cut: A DBS Bank branch in Singapore. The bank slashed its CEO’s bonus by 27%, resulting in a 24% decline in his overall compensation to S$9.2mil (US$6.8mil) for the 2020 performance year. — Bloomberg SINGAPORE: DBS Holdings Group Ltd cut chief executive officer Piyush Gupta’s total 2020 compensation by 24% after South-East Asia’s largest lender posted its first annual drop in profit for four years. The bank slashed Gupta’s bonus by 27%, resulting in a 24% decline in his overall compensation to S$9.2mil (US$6.8mil or RM27.86mil) for the 2020 performance year, down from S$12.1mil a year earlier, DBS said in its annual report. The reduction reflects the “extremely challenging operating environment, ” it said, as the global pandemic endured. Excluding his pay, the median decline in total remuneration and variable pay of of the bank’s management committee members for both 2019 and 2020 was 12%, and 17%, respectively. The pay cuts follow the bank’s first annual earnings decline in four years as a contraction in interest income and a rise in provisions for potential soured loans curbed profitability. Standard Chartered Plc’s Bill Winters saw his total pay slashed 29%, while Barclays Plc’s Jes Staley’s was reduced by about a third. While lauding Gupta’s ability to weather the economic slowdown and grow the bank’s franchise in India and China, DBS said the cut reflected “the difficult operating environment, general cutbacks across the bank and the reduction in the bank’s profits.” DBS’ senior management’s aggregated total remuneration in 2020 amounted to S$63.2mil, including the CEO. That was 14% lower than the 2019 number, the bank said. Gupta said the bank’s “organic” expenses for 2021 will be kept at 2019 levels even as the bank processes higher business volumes. More businesses are also coming to the bank via its digital channels as more clients are turning to online banking during the pandemic, Gupta said. DBS is training its workforce to cope with the changes that come with digitalisation, and has identified more than 7,200 employees to be given skills in areas including data and analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, he said. — Bloomberg
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