Here’s how much the four highest-paid Singapore CEOs earn

OCBC CEO Helen Wong saw her pay jump 47% in 2022
As four Singapore CEOs see their salaries surge, we investigate how their inspiring leadership has secured record company profits

Last week, it was revealed that one of the highest-paid CEOs in Singapore secured a whopping 86% increase in his 2022 renumeration.

As chief executive of Singapore Airlines (SIA), Goh Choong Phong received S$6.7 million (US$5.09m) for the financial year ending March 31, 2023, almost doubling from the previous year, according to the company’s annual report.

This disclosure follows the implementation of a mandate for companies to declare CEO salaries. Since the start of the year, listed companies in Singapore have been required to disclose the exact amount and breakdown of salaries and all payments made to CEOs and directors.

Goh is not alone in securing a significant increase in renumeration in 2022.

Singapore’s highest-paid CEO, DBS Bank’s Piyush Gupta, received S$15.4 million (US$11.69m) in pay marking a 13.2% increase. OCBC CEO Helen Wong saw her pay surge 47%, while the salary of UOB’s chief executive Wee Ee Cheong soared by 30.2% to S$14.2 million (US$10.78m).

Such a surge in pay for these high-performing chiefs comes as all four companies deliver record profits.

Here is exactly what the four highest-paid CEOs in Singapore earn, and why.

1

Piyush Gupta

CEO, DBS Bank

$15.4 million (US$11.69 million)

As CEO Southeast Asia’s biggest bank, Piyush Gupta saw his salary climb 13.2% to US$15.4m

Gupta saw his annual earnings climb 13.2% to US$15.4 million in 2022, thanks to DBS Bank posting a record profit of S$8.19 billion (US$6.2bn), marking a 20% surge on the year before.

The bank achieved a new high on return on equity of 15%, up from 12.5% in 2021, marking the highest return on equity within the financial sector.

His compensation consisted of a salary of S$1.5 million, cash bonus of S$5.77 million and deferred remuneration in cash and shares of S$8.04 million. A non-cash component, made up of club, car and driver benefits worth S$80,529 was also part of the package.

As CEO Southeast Asia’s biggest bank since 2009, Piyush has been the driving force behind the transformation of the ‘World’s Best Bank’, as named by Global Finance and Euromoney. In fact, the bank was listed among the top 10 most transformative organisations of the decade in 2019 by Harvard Business Review. Since 2014, Gupta has spearheaded the bank’s digitalisation, which has brought in more than twice the income on average than non-digital customers in the last five years and earned DBS the title of ‘World’s Best Digital Bank by Euromoney.

He is also Vice-Chairman of the Institute of International Finance in Washington, a member of the Singapore’s Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of AI and Data, and sits on the boards of various institutions. Prior to DBS, he had a 27-year career at Citigroup, including as CEO for Southeast Asia.

2

Wee Ee Cheong

CEO, UOB Group

S$14.2 million (US$10.78m)

Wee Ee Cheong saw his annual salary increase 30.2% in 2022 on the back of record profits for UOB

Wee Ee Cheong saw his annual salary for 2022 come in at S$14.2 million (US$10.78), marking a 30.2% increase from the year before, with most of the increase coming from higher bonuses.

This followed a strong year financially for United Overseas Bank (UOB), which saw its core net profit reach record highs of S$4.8 billion (US$3.64bn), an increase of 18% from a year earlier.

Wee’s annual remuneration comprises a base pay of S$1.2 million, a bonus of S$13 million, along with benefits-in-kind and other transport-related benefits amounting to S$37,577. According to the report, 60% of his variable pay is deferred and will vest over the next three years.

As CEO since 2007, Wee has been instrumental in the bank’s rise to become the leading consumer and SME bank in Southeast. Last year, he led the bank’s largest merger and acquisition in a decade, covering Citi’s retail business in four key markets, and launched its flagship digital bank, earning him the CEO Leadership Achievement in Singapore by Asian Banker.

The son of banking pioneer and UOB founder and chairman Dr Wee Cho Yaw, Wee Ee Cheong has certainly earned his banking stripes, with more than three decades of experience in the financial sector. Joining UOB in 1979, he has served in increasingly senior roles, including president and deputy chairman of the bank before being appointed CEO in 2007. He also serves as chairman of UOB China and is a director in several UOB subsidiaries, not to mention serving as director of The Institute of Banking & Finance

3

Helen Wong

Group CEO, OCBC

S$11.2 million (US$8.50m)

As CEO of OCBC since 2021, Helen Wong saw her pay rise 47% in 2022

While Helen Wong’s pay reached S$11.2 million (US$8.50m) in 2022, up a significant 47% from the year before, she still earns less than the other local bank CEOs.

Her earnings grew in 2022 on the back of OCBC’s net profit of S$1.3 billion (nearly US$1bn)  for the fourth quarter ending December 2022, up 34% from the previous year.

Wong’s renumeration was made up of a base salary of S$1.4 million, a bonus of S$5.4 million and deferred shares amounting to S$3.6 million, as well as club and car worth S$782,244.

Since taking reins in April 2021, Wong has led a steady execution of the bank’s strategic priorities resulting in record earnings in 2022.

Under her leadership, the bank has also enhanced its digital platforms including introducing market-first initiatives and has made significant progress in its sustainability agenda. OCBC has joined the Net Zero Banking Alliance and attained carbon neutrality in its banking operational emissions, while its sustainable financing commitments are on track to meet its target of US%0 billion by 2025 or earlier.

Wong has four decades of banking experience, starting out as OCBC’s first China Desk Manager. Before returning to OCBC in 2020, she spent 27 years at HSBC, most recently as CEO for Greater China. She is also Chairman of OCBC Wing Hang Bank (China).

4

Goh Choong Phong

CEO, Singapore Airlines 

S$6.7 million (US$5.09m)

Goh Choong Phong saw his salary nearly double in 2022 making him one of the most highly paid airline CEOs in the world

While Goh Choong Phong earns the least of these four CEOs, he had the biggest salary increase in 2022 of them all, with his total annual pay in 2022 almost doubling to a whopping 86% to S$6.7 million (US$5.09m).

This makes him one of the most highly paid airline CEOs in the world.

This came off the back of record earnings for Singapore Airlines (SIA) for the financial year ending March 31, 2023, which saw all eligible staff receive a profit-sharing bonus of eight months’ salary. Strong demand a continued recovery in global aviation pushed SIA’s net profit to a record S$2.2 billion (US$1.67 billion).

Goh received a basic salary of S$1.14 million, bonuses amounting to S$2.96 million and shares and benefits totalling S$2.63 million.

Under his leadership, SIA has bounced back from the pandemic achieving record profits and recently securing the prestigious Skytrax airline for the year award. In March 2020, SIA secured S$19 billion investment, primarily from Temasek Holdings.

Serving as CEO since 2011, Goh is credited with spearheading the transformation of the airline, launching budget carrier Scoot in 2012, taking a 49% stake in New Delhi-based Vistara in 2014, and developing leading partnerships with full-service airlines like Lufthansa, to expand its global reach and network.

Goh’s transformation of the airline earned his the much-coveted Dwight D. Eisenhower Global Innovation Award in 2016, when he was described as a“visionary whose transformational leadership has elevated and energised both the conpany’s btrand as well as its people”. He also secured the Centre for Aviation’s APAC Airline CEO of the year award in 2016, and has landed numerous accolades since.

Just recently, Singapore Airlines was crowned the best airline in the world for the fifth time, by Skytrax.

Goh, who joined SIA in 1990, has held various senior management positions in Singapore and overseas including as EVP Marketing and SVP Commercial Technology. He  previously served as Chairman of IATA and is currently Chairman of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines. He is also a member of the MIT Presidential CEO Advisory Board, made up of CEOs from leading companies worldwide.

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