Government Bank Regulators Make More than Twice as Much as Bankers

Another big surprise: recent statistics indicate that bankers make less than half as much annually as the government officials employed to keep those same bankers accountable. Sure, you hear all the time about “bankers’ hours” and “bankers’ pay.” It’s an easy thing to rile up people’s envy by talking about how banker barons and oil tycoons are gouging the life out of the economy for their own profits. How top-level executives and CEOs, blah blah blah. But, as the the Wall Street Journal reports:

It is true that the very top bank executives make more in a year than most of us make in a lifetime, but compensation of this magnitude is rare. Most banks in this country are small businesses and pay employees modest salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average annual salary of a bank employee was $49,540 in 2012, not much higher than the average annual across all occupations, $45,790.

But you know who is really making the big bucks? Bank regulators. That’s right. The very government bureaucrats that are responsible to make sure bankers operate above the law are making nearly three times as much on average as the average bank employee:

Yet one group in banking stands out as highly paid—federal bank regulators. Before the Dodd-Frank Act, the average employee of a federal bank regulatory agency received 2.3 times the average compensation of a private banker. By 2013 this ratio increased to more than 2.7—and in some cases considerably more.


The average compensation at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) exceeded $190,000 in 2012. The staff at the Federal Reserve is likely even better compensated, but the Fed refuses to release employee salaries.


You might think high-paying jobs at these agencies require special skills. Not so. At the OCC, secretaries make on average $79,182 per annum. Motor vehicle operators (the agency’s limo drivers) at the FDIC earn $82,130. Human resources management trainees at the CFPB make $110,759 a year.

That should anger you. Because the money that is being spent in those agencies is your money. Banks are required by the market to run tight ships. Unless the civil government bails them out—again, with your money—when they’re stupid (which has happened, as you know), banks have to cut costs where they can and pay competitive wages in order to survive.

Not so with bank regulators. They can afford to be spendthrift. Because who cares if tax money is being wasted. After all, if the civil government won’t even allow private banks and industries to fail, how much more invested will they be in making sure that their own bank regulators stay above water. Well above water, actually. Even if it means the rest of us drown.