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In this vein, it comes as no surprise that all executives have seen an increase in their salaries between 2015 and 2016, with Standard Bank and Capitec in particular posting double-digit growth for exec pay.

Taking all executives into account (including all executive directors), South Africa’s big five banks spent a total of R783 million paying 30 people in the sector (R23 million per executive) – including the 6 CEOs.

CEO salaries account for around a third of this however – at R253 million – and averages to R42 million per CEO, a significant increase on R34.3 million in 2015.

The salaries below show the total remuneration received by the respective CEOs in the 2016 financial year, including the reported share values received as indicated in the annual reports.

FirstRand’s report is for the full year ending June 2016, and Capitec’s data is for the full year ending February 2017. Standard Bank, Nedbank and Absa’s data is for the full year ending December 2016.

BankCEO2015 Salary (Rm)2016 Salary (Rm)Change (%)
FirstRand Sizwe Nxasana 59.23 62.45 5.4%
Standard Bank Sim Tshabalala 30.99 44.49 43.6%
Standard Bank Ben Kruger 30.79 44.49 44.5%
Nedbank Mike Brown 36.43 36.78 1.0%
Capitec Gerrie Fourie 20.10 35.60 35.6%
Absa Maria Ramos 28.21 29.51 4.6%
Average   34.29 42.22 23.1%

Includes reported share awards


Sizwe Nxasana was FirstRand CEO in 2015

Salary make up of banking CEOs in 2016

When looking at the basic salaries of each CEO, the picture is slightly different, with Absa CEO, Maria Ramos, being the highest paid by some margin.

As is typical with executive pay, the biggest draw for CEOs comes through short-term and long-term incentive schemes, which pay out cash and share bonuses over a certain period, which often yields massive awards.

These incentive schemes pay out at different times, according to the specific contract with each respective CEO, and the executives are typically given an option to exercise their options, or to defer them to another time.

The French nationality earned a score of 81.7% out of a possible 100%, fractionally ahead of Germany, which was knocked off the top spot for the first time in seven years, with a score of 81.6%.

“While the difference between France’s and Germany’s results is relatively small, France’s comparative advantage lies in its greater Settlement Freedom (attributable mainly to the country’s former colonial empire),” Henley & Partners said.

Iceland and Denmark were awarded third and fourth place, while the UK dropped down a position to 13th place – again failing to secure a spot in the top 10.

The US increased its position by two ranks, claiming 27th place, with the country’s relatively poor standing on the Index primarily due to its low Settlement Freedom compared to EU member states. China climbed two places to rank 59th, and Russia maintained its position at 63rd place on the Index.

RankNationalityValue 2017Change (2016 vs 2017)
1  France 81.7 -0.8
2  Germany 81.6 -1.2
3  Iceland 81.5 +0.2
4  Denmark 80.9 -1.5
5  Netherlands 80.8 +1.1
6  Norway 80.4 -0.6
7  Sweden 80.0 -1.2
8  Finland 79.2 -1.5
8  Italy 79.2 -0.7
10  Ireland 79.0 -0.4

South Africa

South Africa was ranked 92nd in 2017 with a score of 32.8% – dropping five places from 87th in 2016.

This places it on par with the majority of African and Middle-Eastern countries, but behind most of Western Europe and the US.

The reason for the relatively low-ranking was due to South Africa’s ‘external value of internationality’ (91st), and ‘travel freedom’ (82nd).

Simply put, the South African passport does not boast the sheer number of  jurisdictions where one can travel to or settle in compared to other passports.

However the country placed relatively highly for ‘settlement freedom’ (50th), based on exactly what kind of countries one can travel to or settle in with a particular nationality, taking the Human Development and Economic Strength of every possible destination into account.

Effectively this means that while South Africa’s passport may not allow you to entry into as many countries as other passports, the types of countries you can visit are of a better quality and variety.

RankNationalityValue 2017Change (2016 vs 2017)
87 Qatar 34.1 -3.6
88 Bolivia 34.0 -0.9
89 Solomon Islands 33.9 n/a
89 Saudi Arabia 33.9 -0.6
90 Bahrain 33.6 -0.6
90 Oman 33.6 -0.7
91 Kazakhstan 33.4 0.0
92 South Africa 32.8 -0.2
92 Belarus 32.8 +0.1
93 Cape Verde 32.5 -0.6