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Finance's Top Earners Don't Work at a Bank

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04/16/2019 | 05:45am EDT

By Patrick Thomas

The best place to make money in the world of finance and investment may not be at a bank but in real estate.

Real-estate investment trusts had some of the highest median worker pay among financial, real-estate and insurance companies in 2018, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of annual pay disclosures by hundreds of big U.S. companies. Property companies such as Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. and HCP Inc. paid their median employees more than some of the largest banks did.

Host Hotels & Resorts, the lodging REIT formed through deals including a spinoff over 20 years ago from what was Marriott Corp., had median worker pay of $183,956, the highest of any company in the sectors. The company has about 180 employees, all of whom work in the U.S., according to its latest proxy filing. Host Hotels & Resorts didn't respond to requests for comment. REITs often contract out lower-wage operations, leaving higher-paid professionals on their own payrolls.

HCP, a health-care REIT with about 200 employees, posted the third-highest median pay of $156,921. The exchange operator Cboe Global Markets Inc. had the second-highest median worker pay, at $159,496.

HCP didn't respond to requests for comment. A Cboe spokeswoman said the company's compensation plan takes into account expertise and tenure.

Morgan Stanley led big banks with median worker pay of $142,604, followed closely by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. at $136,513. But banks with more retail branches including tellers and other lower-wage workers were more likely to report median pay around $65,000. JPMorgan Chase & Co., the largest bank in the U.S., paid a median of $78,923.

Of the six largest U.S. banks, Citigroup Inc. had the lowest median pay figure at $49,766, about $10,000 less than the Midwest regional bank U.S. Bancorp. Wells Fargo & Co. posted median pay of $65,191.

Slightly over a third of Citigroup's more than 200,000 employees work in North America, according to its latest proxy statement. A spokesman for Citigroup declined to comment beyond the filing.

The financial data company FactSet Research Systems Inc. had the lowest median pay of $15,331 among the sectors. A company spokeswoman said most of FactSet's employees are based outside the U.S. She said the employee with the median pay was located in the company's Hyderabad, India, office, where 34% of its 9,571 employees are based.

The companies with the lowest median worker pay reported by S&P 500 companies in the financial, real-estate and insurance sectors were S&P Global Inc., at $26,738, and the real-estate and self-storage company Public Storage, at $24,909. A spokesman for S&P Global, the financial-information firm, said that 75% of its workforce is outside the U.S. and that its median employee provides junior professional services in the Asia-Pacific region. Of Public Storage's nearly 5,400 employees, 83% work at its self-storage facilities and are paid on an hourly basis, according to its latest proxy filing.

Most publicly traded firms are disclosing their median employee pay for a second straight year, along with compensation for top executives. Firms are asked to include part-time and temporary workers, but not contractors, and have the option of giving annual pay for some midyear hires. Companies may exclude up to 5% of their global workforce, but only non-U.S. workers, and may use sampling techniques to identify the median employee.

The Journal analysis, which includes more than 1,300 companies, combined the financial, real-estate and insurance sectors as defined by S&P Global. Those sectors include industry groups encompassing banks, REITs, insurance, capital markets and consumer finance.

Check out this interactive link for the full ranking of companies or to search for a specific company or industry.

Write to Patrick Thomas at Patrick.Thomas@wsj.com

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
DJ INDUSTRIAL -0.59% 26935.07 Delayed Quote.16.15%
HCP INC -0.23% 35.01 Delayed Quote.25.35%
HOST HOTELS & RESORTS, INC -0.17% 17.24 Delayed Quote.3.60%
NASDAQ 100 -0.99% 7823.553294 Delayed Quote.24.83%
NASDAQ COMP. -0.80% 8117.674437 Delayed Quote.23.32%
ONE STOP SYSTEMS INC 4.03% 2.84 Delayed Quote.46.39%
S&P 500 -0.49% 2992.07 Delayed Quote.19.36%
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