There’s always a lot of discussion about the levels of executive pay, especially in publicly listed companies that everyday retail investors own.
Do chief executives really have that hard a job? Does intelligence or business acumen deserve as big a pay packet as rare athletic or dramatic talent?
Regardless of which side of the debate you’re on, it’s amazing to see how much top executives take home compared to the average person on the street.
For example, a study has found Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) chief Elon Musk takes just 5 minutes to earn what an average Australian does in almost six months.
According to Gigacalculator.com, a typical Australian worker needs to work for 22 weeks, 2 days and 3 hours to match what Musk makes over the duration of one pop song.
Musk makes an astonishing $21,030 every 5 minutes.
|Rank||Chief executive||Company||AUD earned in 5 minutes||How long an average Australian needs to earn this much|
|1||Elon Musk||Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA)||$21,030||22 weeks, 2 days and 3 hours|
|2||Tim Cook||Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL)||$4,725||5 weeks and 2 hours|
|3||Tom Rutledge||Charter Communications Inc (NASDAQ: CHTR)||$4,133||4 weeks , 2 days and 1 hour|
|4||Joseph Ianniello||CBS Corporation (NASDAQ: VIAC)||$4,118||4 weeks and 2 days|
|5||Sumit Singh||Chewy Inc (NYSE: CHWY)||$3,821||4 weeks and 3 hours|
|6||Jonathan Gray||Blackstone Group Inc (NYSE: BX)||$3,803||4 weeks and 3 hours|
|7||Robert Swan||Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC)||$3,498||3 weeks, 3 days and 6 hours|
|8||Sundar Pichai||Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL)||$3,044||3 weeks, 1 day and 2 hours|
|9||Satya Nadella||Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT)||$2,731||1 week, 4 days and 7 hours|
|10||Douglas Ingram||Sarepta Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: SRPT)||$2,481||1 week, 2 days and 7 hours|
|Source: Gigacalculator.com; Table created by author|
There is daylight between Musk and the second longest, Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) chief executive Tim Cook.
“It would take Australians 5 weeks and 2 hours to earn the same amount the Apple CEO does in five minutes ($4,725),” Gigacalculator’s report read.
“In the space of five minutes, Cook can buy three iPhone 12s without breaking a sweat.”
Interestingly, the 10 highest paid CEOs in the world all work for publicly listed companies.
In Australia, The Motley Fool previously reported IDP Education Ltd (ASX: IEL) boss Andrew Barkla is the highest paid CEO in the ASX 200. His $37.76 million salary equates to about $968.20 for 5 minutes of work.
Do they deserve these pay packets?
The study also found that 78% of Australians thought it “unjustified” for CEOs to earn millions per year. Even more (86%) thought the salary difference between them and the average Joe and Jane was “too wide” and needed to be reduced.
Regardless of which side of the debate you’re on, the fact remains the performance of these business leaders have a huge bearing on the livelihood of many. Their decisions affect the fortunes of thousands or even millions of shareholders, staff, suppliers and customers.
Perhaps chief executives should improve their communication skills to better publicise their work.
Seven-out-of-ten Australians told the research that they don’t understand what CEOs do on a daily basis, while 65% demanded more transparency on their duties.
Gigacalculator based its comparisons on an average gross annual full-time salary in Australia of $48,360. The study assumed CEOs worked an average of 62.5 hours each week, based on a Harvard Business Review report. The average Australian was assumed to have worked 40 hours each week.
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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Tony Yoo owns shares of Alphabet (A shares). The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Apple, Microsoft, and Tesla. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of Idp Education Pty Ltd. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. recommends Chewy, Inc. and Intel and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $85 calls on Microsoft and short January 2021 $115 calls on Microsoft. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Alphabet (A shares) and Apple. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.
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