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A Third of Goldman Sachs’ Shareholders Think Its CEO Is Overpaid

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Lloyd Blankfein, CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs.Photograph by Getty Images

Goldman Sachs’ CEO Lloyd Bankfein may have a pay problem.

While a majority of Goldman Sachs (GS) shareholders voted in favor of executive pay plans on Friday at the bank’s annual meeting in its Jersey City offices, around 34% did not. And that’s after Goldman cut Blankfein’s salary for the first time in four years. Imagine if they had given him a raise.

Goldman paid Blankfein $22.6 million in 2015, his first pay decline in four years. He received $24 million in 2014.

Such a high level of dissent is uncommon, as big companies often try to meet with large shareholders ahead of time to discuss executive compensation policies. According to ISS Corporates solutions, just 8.8% of shareholders on average said no to executive pay packages in 2015. The analysis surveyed 3,000 U.S. companies.

That percentage was also less than at J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM), where 92% of investors approved executive pay plans at their annual meeting this week. And Dimon’s pay rose last year, up a hefty 35% to $27 million, despite the fact that the company’s shares were up only 6%.

In all, the pay of the CEOs of the nation’s six largest banks—which also includes Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley (MS), and Wells Fargo (WFC)—rose to $123 million last year, with an average of $20.5 million for each exec. That comes to roughly 455 times the average American worker salary.

Goldman shareholders also rejected a proposal to require an independent board chairman with a 30% vote. Blankfein currently serves as both CEO and chairman of the board.

Blankfein said the economy was slowly emerging from a period of slow growth and there were signals of improvement.

 

“There are signs on the horizon we are finally coming out of that environment,” he said, pointing to the fact that the Federal Reserve had begun to raise interest rates and employment was growing.

“We’ve been looking for these things before and seen false dawns but there is a little more confidence this time around.”

During the first quarter of 2016, Goldman reported its worst results in four years as revenue tumbled 40%. Return on average common equity (ROE), a measure of how well the bank uses shareholder money to generate profit, was 6.4% in the quarter, down from 14.7% a year earlier.