Never mind show business the real money these days is coming from the banking and finance arena.

A full one-third of L.A.'s 100 highest-paid public company executives (and seven of the top 10) work for banks or other finance-related companies, according to the Business Journal's annual survey of executive compensation.

Great Western Financial Corp., H.F. Ahmanson & Co., Jefferies Group Inc. and SunAmerica Inc. each have five executives among L.A.'s 100 highest paid.

Of the 33 banking and finance executives on the list, 10 come from mortgage lending, nine from general financial services, five each from investment banking and health insurance, and four from general insurance services.

"You're going to see more of that," predicted Joshua Lurie, chief executive of Joint Information Inc., a New York-based compensation research firm that compiled this year's List of L.A.'s top-paid 100. "Because the stock market is doing well and you've got things like mergers and IPOs (initial public offerings) happening, those companies are going to flourish."

Besides banking and finance, other industries with heavy concentrations of top-paid L.A. executives include energy, manufacturing and yes, entertainment/media.

As a group, L.A.'s top-paid executives hauled in their richest pay package ever. But they didn't get fat just off their salaries and bonuses. Those two components of compensation rose a mere 1.8 percent for L.A.'s 100 highest-paid executives in 1996, not even keeping pace with inflation.

The real bonanza, as has been true throughout American business, came in the form of long-term compensation. The same 100 L.A. executives saw their stock options and other incentive-based pay soar by 195 percent in 1996, nearly triple the amount in the previous year.

"We all still need a paycheck to live on," said SunAmerica Chief Executive Eli Broad, "but there's more of a trend now toward getting top management pay aligned with the interests of shareholders."

Broad, whose $30 million package ranked him a distant second to Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Michael Eisner, said salaries of SunAmerica's top managers have been held flat for the past three years, although cash bonuses have in some cases nearly doubled, and stock options have made more than a couple SunAmericans rich.

The notion behind such long-term compensation is that an executive's pay should be tied to how well his or her company performs, usually as judged by its stock price.


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