A record 2,000 bankers across Europe earned more than €1m (£878,000) last year, according to data that shows the scale at which some of the best-paid jobs in Britain have moved from London to the EU since Brexit.
The European Banking Authority disclosed on Thursday that the number of bankers earning €1m or more a year had increased by more than 40%, from 1,383 in 2020 to 1,957 in 2021. It is the highest number of €1m-plus European bankers since the EBA began collecting the data in 2010.
The figures do not include the UK, which left the EU after Brexit in 2020. Before it was excluded from the data, the UK had consistently led the bankers’ pay rankings. In 2017, 3,567 UK-based bankers collected more than €1m.
The EBA said the increase in the number of €1m-plus European bankers had been caused by booming investment banking profits as well as “further relocations from staff after Brexit from the UK to the EU and also as overall salary levels increased”.
The regulator said 70% of the increase in high earners was in banks operating in Italy, France and Spain.
The single highest paid banker earned €14m-15m in Spain. The EBA did not identity the person, but said that “a significant amount of variable remuneration corresponds to one severance payment”. Their pay works out at least 466 times the average salary in Spain.
Three more bankers – one each from Germany, Spain and France – were paid €13m-14m.
Most of the €1m-plus bankers lived in Germany, which has a big financial hub in Frankfurt, with 589 (30%) of the high earners included in the report. France took second place with 371 (19%), followed by Italy with 351 (18%).
The average value of the bankers’ bonuses worked out at just over 100% of their fixed pay, an increase from 86.4% the previous year.
The regulator said the jump in bonuses had been boosted by “the good financial performance of the institutions” as well as “the relief of relevant Covid-19 restrictions and in the continuation of relocation of staff to the EU activities in the context of Brexit”.
Luke Hildyard, director of the High Pay Centre, a thinktank that campaigns for fairer pay for workers, said: “In an era of widespread hardship and falling living standards, these figures demonstrate that the supersized incomes of the ultra rich do very little to benefit the rest of us. The creation of more millionaire bankers is a sign of economic failure – it shows the global economy is badly structured, with far too much of the wealth that is created by everyone captured by a tiny number of corporations and ultra rich individuals.”