Highly paid CEOs of Pakistani banks

ByMalik Nasir Mahmood Aslam

Seasoned social activist


November 13, 2022

Highly paid CEOs of Pakistani banks

Malik Nasir MAhmood Aslam describes an unusual phenomenon

Highly paid CEOs of Pakistani banks private commercial banks are known for their financial inertia operating as just deposit takers and steadfastly eschewing devising financial strategies aimed at wider public welfare. Though from a strictly commercial point of view the banks may be acting properly but it may be kept in mind that they have a large footprint in socio-political of Pakistan with many bankers having played an important role in official financial management of the country, the recent being of Shaukat Tarin who remained finance minister in the former PTI government and was known to have played a crucial role in negotiating terms of engagements with the IMF. In this context the claim of commercial blanks that they are simply dealing with commercial aspects of banking is not entirely justifiable and it is justly required of them to do something more in terms of providing welfare to the people.

Due to their limited yet self-enriching activity the commercial banks have earned phenomenal profits and it is reflected in the remuneration extended to their chief executive officers that are way above what similar public financial sector organisations could ever conceive of. The average salary of these executives come to rupees one crore that is still plenty of money in inflation-ridden Pakistan and appears highly unreasonable in a country that has one of the highest percentage of poverty-stricken people in the world. This income inequality is certainly unhealthy and is a clear sign of the growing unease between the social strata that is exacerbating the tension in the country that is now rated to be on the brink of an explosion.

It is often pointed out that despite being paid so highly the banks cannot automatically gain the fiduciary loyalty of their CEOs who always look forward to switch banks whenever better financial package is offered. It is well known in the banking industry that after bankers hit a certain level in one bank they regularly shift around bouncing from one to another. It is not considered odd for most CEOs to aspire to head not one bank but they wish to head multiple banks in order to show their virtuosity in the industry and this tendency, instead of objected upon, is greatly appreciated. Interestingly, there is no yardstick for judging their performance and, if there is any, it is very well hidden. Apparently there is no methodology of calculating the return on the huge salaries paid to the CEOs by the commercial banks as this issue remains secret between the bank and its head.

The CEOs of commercial banks are a motley crowd coming from banking background but many have good deal of experience of working in foreign banks. It appears that Pakistani banks have shown a decisive tilt towards preferring personnel having experience of working in foreign banks as they have to deal with international banking quite frequently. Pakistani bankers yearn to find opening in foreign banks as they pave the way for higher openings for them in Pakistani banking industry and they are taking in with open arms. Most Pakistani bankers with experience of working in foreign bankers are usually offered high pay packages and are treated with due reverence as compared to their Pakistani colleagues.

In this context an example is of Shahzad Dada, currently heading United Bank Limited, who is heading a Pakistani bank for the first time. A graduate of Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania, Dada remained a director at Deutsche Bank and also served Standard Chartered Bank as CEO for over five years and as CEO and Managing Director of Barclays Bank in Pakistan before that. His reported salary is Rs. 340.86 million per year that comes to slightly less than Rs. 30 million a month.

The other CEO who was paid a whopping an annual remuneration of Rs. 304 million was Irfan Siddiqi of Meezan Bank who is also its founding president. He appears to have connections with the gulf financial world as he remained general manager at Pakistan Kuwait Investment Company, advisor to the managing director at Kuwait Investment Authority, manager finance and operation at Abu Dhabi Investment Company and senior business analyst at Exxon Chemical (Pakistan) Ltd.

Muhammad Aurangzeb is heading the HBL and is well-known in banking circles as he held the position of chairman of the Pakistan Banks Association as well as chairman of the Pakistan Business Council and council member at the Institute of Bankers Pakistan. He is CEO and President of HBL since 2018 and his salary is reported to be Rs. 265.66 million per annum. Before working for HBL he was associated with JP Morgan’s Global Corporate Bank based in Asia as its CEO and comes with three decades of international banking experience having worked in senior management roles at ABN AMRO and RBS based in Amsterdam and Singapore.

Atif Bajwa is holding fort at Bank Alfalah earning a yearly salary of Rs. 187.26 million as its CEO. This is not his first stint as CEO of Alfalah Bank as he had resigned from the same bank in 2017 for personal reasons after serving as CEO for five years. Bajwa previously served as CEO MCB and Soneri Banks along with remaining country manager for ABN Amro Bank and the chairman of the Pakistan Business Council. Bajwa was appointed president and CEO of the Bank of Punjab but excused himself from joining this position.

Rehan Sheikh heads Standard Chartered Bank with a yearly remuneration of Rs. 184.61. He has also served as CEO for four years of SCB’s Islamic Banking Group and prior to it he was senior vice president at Dubai Islamic Bank, head of corporate and institutional banking at SCB, and senior director and corporate banking head at American Express. Rehan Sheikh has a diversified career in financial management dealing with multifarious corporate matters, international trade finance and management of bank branches.

Habib Metro Bank is headed by Mohsin Ali Nathani who is paid Rs. 144.53 every year; who started his career at CitiBank and then spent his formative years at ABN Amro. He then went back to CitiBank and served as the regional head of Corporate Banking in the Middle East and subsequently served as CEO of Islamic Banking too. From CitiBank, Nathani moved to Barclays where he was country head and managing director for Pakistan. He then made his way to Standard Chartered as CEO where he served for five years before moving on to his present position.

Yousaf Hussain is CEO of Faysal Bank earning Rs. 137.86 yearly and has been associated with Faysal Bank since 2008. He acquired his banking experience with ABN AMRO and Faysal Bank pertaining to risk management and allied financial functions. He also remained associated with Samba Bank as the country head for and also worked with Mashreq Bank and Mobilink.

Zafar Masood is a well-known banker who as CEO of Bank of Punjab is earning yearly a sum of Rs. 134.43. He had served as regional managing director and CEO for Barclays Bank Southern Africa and also in senior positions at Citibank, American Express Bank and Dubai Islamic Bank. At one time Zafar Masood also served as the director general of National Savings run by the Ministry of Finance. TW


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