What DAX board members have earned in the past year

What DAX board members have earned in the past year

German company bosses can only dream of such salaries: Apple boss Tim Cook received 94 million euros in remuneration last year. Microsoft paid its CEO the equivalent of 52 million euros per year, American Express was 45 million euros.

In Germany, such sums are practically unattainable even for top managers and top earners, explains Marc Tüngler from the German Protection Association for Securities Ownership DSW in Düsseldorf. “If you look at the absolute levels of remuneration, the ten million euro mark continues to establish itself as the absolute cap here in Germany.” Because more cannot be communicated socially, employee representatives and the public would not accept more, says Tüngler.

38 times more than the average

The investor protectors, together with experts from the Technical University of Munich, have examined how the 40 largest listed companies recently paid their board members. “As CEO of a DAX group, you earned an average of 5.1 million euros in the 2022 financial year. As a simple board member, you earned an average of 2.9 million euros,” study author Gunther Friedl explains the results of the study.

Compared to ordinary employees, this means that the DAX board members earn 38 times more than the average. But the gap has narrowed: last year it was even 52 times more. One reason: the remuneration of the board members fell in the past crisis year. Because how much they earn depends on complex calculation systems: with a basic salary plus variable components, divided into short-term and long-term goals, which in turn are measured against many individual criteria and numbers.

For the first time a woman in the top three

Many of these goals were missed in the past crisis year. Result: The DAX company bosses got 16 percent less, simple board members eight percent less. Nevertheless, the bottom line is still millions, explains study author Friedl. “The leader is Christian Sewing from Deutsche Bank with 9.2 million euros, followed by Oliver Blume from Volkswagen with 8.8 million euros and Belén Garijo Lopez from Merck with 8.3 million. And that’s the first time, by the way a CEO in our top three ranking.”

A lot of money, but that’s actually rather modest by international comparison, say the experts. In most other European countries and especially in the USA, the women or men at the top earn significantly more. In the United States, the average is not €5 million per year, but €25 million. “But when comparing remuneration, you shouldn’t be blind in one eye,” says investor advocate Tüngler. “The risk of a board member abroad is also significantly higher.”

German top salaries fluctuate less

In the US, the compensation of top executives is usually strongly linked to the development of the share price. And it can also drop significantly. For comparison: The fixed – i.e. guaranteed – basic salary for US company managers last year was only eight percent. In Germany, on the other hand, it was 32 percent. This means that while German board members earn less than their colleagues abroad, their salary does not fluctuate as much.

Investor advocates see it positively that social and environmental aspects, such as employee satisfaction or diversity, reducing energy consumption or the use of sustainable materials, are increasingly playing a role in variable compensation targets in Germany. 98 percent of the DAX companies take at least one of these criteria into account when asking how much the boss should earn.


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