(Bloomberg) -- Nordea Bank Abp chief executive officer last year earned about 40 times more than the bank’s average employee, up from about 20 times for 2019, the year Frank Vang-Jensen took the job.

Vang-Jensen saw his total pay grow 4.2% in 2023 to €3.66 million ($3.97 million), the bank’s remuneration report showed on Monday. That compared with an increase of just 0.6% for the group average. That added a fourth consecutive year in which the gap widened between what the CEO makes and what most everyone else takes home.

The CEO’s pay for 2019 is split between Vang-Jensen and his predecessor, Casper von Koskull, Nordea said by email, clarifying data it had posted in its remuneration report. The first full year when Vang-Jensen led the bank, his pay was 29 times that of an average staff member.

Vang-Jensen isn’t the only European bank leader who got bigger pay raises than their staff last year. Last week, Standard Chartered Plc revealed a 22% increase in pay for CEO Bill Winters while cutting the company’s bonus pool, and HSBC Holdings Plc said compensation for CEO Noel Quinn would almost double, outpacing growth in variable compensation for the workforce as a whole.

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Nordea said in the report on Monday that one reason why the increase in average pay for employees was so small was its strategy to move jobs to low-cost countries. Still, the lender’s Nordic employees didn’t manage to keep up with the CEO either as their average salary growth was 1.2%.

Vang-Jensen’s pay is “set at a competitive and well-grounded level to ensure that Nordea can attract, retain and motivate the responsibilities attached to CEO function and role,” a spokesman said by email. Pay levels at “peer banks across the Nordics and Europe” also play a role, he said.

The firm also pointed to “positive correlation between the company performance and the total remuneration” for the CEO in the report, saying that this relationship influences the amount of money it pays to its chief more strongly than it affects average group pay. 

Nordea’s shares have outperformed most other major Nordic banks since Vang-Jensen took over. Profitability measured by return on equity has grown each year since then as well, hitting 16.9% last year. 

(Nordea clarifies bulk of 2019 CEO pay refers to Vang-Jensen’s predecessor)

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