Chief executive officers undoubtedly have challenging jobs — leading companies with several thousand employees, working hard to keep revenue flowing at a healthy clip, and turning a profit to pay salaries and expenses, all while keeping stock shareholders happy with their investment.
That said, CEOs more often than not are paid very nicely for those responsibilities and the top executives of the publicly traded firms headquartered in Columbus are no different. At the top of the financial mountain locally is Aflac’s Dan Amos, followed by Troy Woods of TSYS and Kessel Stelling of Synovus.
As companies that sell shares of stock to investors, all three Columbus firms are required to file financial reports and other key information routinely with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The stream of reports include annual “definitive proxy statements,” or Form DEF 14A, giving those who own stock detailed information to make sound decisions heading into annual shareholder meetings.
That information includes compensation paid to CEOs and other top management, with tables laying out salaries, bonuses, stock awards and options, incentive pay and “all other compensation.” The “other” category typically lists various perks or benefits ranging from auto allowances and personal use of corporate aircraft to retirement plans, life insurance and security services.
Here is a breakdown of what each CEO and his top executives made in 2016 at supplemental health and life insurer Aflac, global credit-card and payment processor TSYS and Southeast regional bank Synovus Financial Corp.:
Daniel P. Amos, chairman and CEO of Aflac, took home a salary of $1.4 million, which hasn’t changed over the last three years. But as the firm’s earnings growth in Japan and the U.S. steadied in 2016 after a bit of sluggish growth the previous two years, his total compensation package jumped from just under $12 million in 2015 to $20.4 million last year. His total package in 2014 was $8.6 million.
In 2016, aside from the base salary, Amos received stock awards valued at $13.8 million, non-equity incentive plan compensation of $4.9 million and other perks totaling about $313,000. The bulk of that was for security service for the multimillionaire — more than $237,000 — with just over $66,000 for personal use of a company aircraft.
Total compensation packages of Aflac’s other top executives, according to the SEC filing, came in at $4.2 million for Aflac Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Frederick Crawford, who joined the insurer in mid-2015. Kriss Cloninger, Aflac Inc. president and the former CFO who is retiring later this year, received total compensation of $11.2 million in 2016, up from just under $7 million the year prior. Paul Amos, the son of Dan Amos and president of Aflac, saw total compensation valued at over $6.6 million, up from $5.4 million the year before. Eric Kirsch, global chief investment officer and executive vice president, had a package of about $3.7 million last year, down slightly from the nearly $4 million he earned in 2015.
At TSYS in 2016, Chairman and CEO M. Troy Woods, who has made some bold moves in the last few years, including engineering the two largest acquisitions ever by TSYS in prepaid card specialty firm NetSpend and merchant acquiring firm TransFirst, saw his total package rise slightly to about $6.4 million last year, up from just under $6.2 million in 2015 and from about $4.2 million in 2014.
Woods’ base salary last year was $869,000, with stock awards valued at nearly $2.4 million, option awards of $1.2 million, and non-equity incentive plan compensation of nearly $1.8 million. “Other” compensation and perks amounted to $145,729. That included contributions to a deferred compensation plan, financial planning fees, life insurance coverage and personal use of corporate aircraft.
Total pay packages of the other four top executives at TSYS in 2016 were just over $2 million for Paul Todd, chief financial officer and senior executive vice president, down from $2.9 million the year before; a little more than $4.3 million for Pamela Joseph, president and chief operating officer, most of that in stock awards and options (she received a salary of $451,845 and a cash signing bonus of $300,000 after joining the company in May); $2.2 million for William Pruett, the now-retired senior executive vice president, which was down slightly from $2.3 million in 2015; just over $2.2 million for G. Sanders Griffith III, the firm’s general counsel, secretary and senior executive vice president, up from $1.8 million the year prior; and nearly $2 million for Patricia Watson, chief information officer and senior executive vice president, which was down from $2.5 million in 2015 (she joined the company in September 2015, receiving a $550,000 bonus).
Synovus Financial Corp.
For Synovus, the parent company of Columbus Bank and Trust, SEC filings show Chairman and CEO Kessel D. Stelling’s total compensation package remained steady at $4.2 million from 2015 to 2016. That’s with the company becoming more profitable even while trimming its bank branches and ramping up the mobile and digital banking technology that more and more customers demand these days. His total package in 2014 was $3.4 million.
Stelling’s base salary in 2016 was $985,769, which was up only $23,500 from the year before. His non-equity incentive plan pay dipped to just under $1.1 million, while the CEO’S stock awards were slightly higher at $1.8 million. The biggest jump came in his “other” compensation and perks, which rose from $251,413 in 2015 to $322,526 last year. About $253,000 of the perks category was deferred compensation plan contributions by the company, with Stelling receiving a housing allowance of $26,400 and an auto allowance of $6,000, along with transportation service costs of $16,500 and financial planning assistance of $17,500.
Total packages in 2016 for the other top executives at Synovus were $1.36 million for Kevin Blair, who joined the bank last August, replacing retiring Chief Financial Officer Thomas Prescott (Blair’s pay included a one-time bonus of $325,000); $789,149 for Prescott, which was down, of course, from his $1.3 million full-year compensation package in 2015; just over $1.2 million for Allen Gula, chief operations officer and executive vice president, down about $37,000 from the year before; about $1 million for Allan Kamensky, general counsel, secretary and executive vice president, nearly identical to his package a year earlier; and $906,276 for Mark Holladay, chief risk officer and executive vice president. Holladay was not listed as an executive officer in 2014 and 2015.