NEW YORK, April 1 (UPI) -- An executive compensation consultation firm said pay for board directors at the largest U.S. banks grew sharply while thousands of bank workers were laid off.
Board member pay at the six largest banks rose to an average of $328,655 in 2011.
The pay increased through a period in which banks laid off tens of thousands of workers.
Board member compensation averaged $232,142 at among 500 publicly traded companies analyzed by consulting firm Equilar, The New York Times reported Monday.
Since 2008, pay for Citibank directors rose 64 percent, to an average of $315,000 per year, Equilar said.
Directors at Goldman Sachs receive the highest pay among board members of the six largest banks, earning an average of $488,709 in 2011, up 50 percent from 2008, Equilar said.
Bank boards reason that much of a director's pay comes in the form of stock, which means it cannot be cashed in immediately. More importantly, bank officials say, it means that a board member's incentive is to raise the value of the stock, which benefits shareholders.
"While the Goldman pay is high, the directors are paid all in equity that cannot be cashed until they leave the board. These features are beneficial for shareholders but reduce the value of the compensation for the directors," said Lucian Bebchuk, a Harvard University law professor.