Card company American Express said it paid CEO Stephen Squeri $28.5 million in "total direct compensation" last year, giving him a 39% increase over its 2021 target of $20.5 million, according to the company's proxy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
It was an even bigger boost over his 2020 compensation of $19.96 million, according to the calculation provided by the company, which is an alternative to the standard accounting approach. Squeri’s compensation was approved at the Tuesday annual meeting of Amex shareholders.
Squeri’s base salary remained the same from 2020 to 2021, at $1.5 million, and is just 5% of his total compensation pay mix for 2021, according to the March proxy filing.
The proxy filing notes 95% of Squeri’s compensation in 2021 is performance-based, and 67% is tied to the company’s future performance.
Squeri, who has held the chairman and CEO role since 2018, “has built a culture focused on backing customers, colleagues and communities and has evolved the company’s operating model through an enterprise-wide strategy focused on delivering sustainable, long-term growth,” the filing says.
Long-term incentive awards, such as stock options and restricted stock options, make up 67% of his pay mix. While the 2021 target for Squeri’s long-term incentive awards was $14.5 million, the actual amount was $19 million.
The filing notes Squeri’s compensation reflects both the target set at the beginning of 2021 and incentive award decisions the compensation and benefits committee made in January, “which took into consideration 2021 performance and external market data” provided by the committee’s independent consultant.
Also in January, Amex laid out a new growth plan that raised expectations for the year and beyond, driven by higher spending by cardholders and new card acquisitions. Revenue in 2021 amounted to $42.4 billion.
With the return of travel is giving the company’s results a boost, Amex recently reported its first-quarter revenue climbed 29% to $11.7 billion. Although the company’s net income fell 6% relative to last year, to $2.1 billion, it exceeded the previous two quarters.
In the proxy filing, the company pointed out its total compensation figure differs from the figure in the summary compensation table, which is the Securities and Exchange Commission’s required disclosure, with the main difference being the timing of disclosure related to equity awards.
That summary compensation table shows Squeri’s 2021 total compensation at $25.5 million, up from $24.2 million in 2020.