Auswide Bank CFO Bill Schafer.
Auswide Bank CFO Bill Schafer.

Auswide CFO on why some are getting the big bucks

AUSWIDE Bank chief financial officer Bill Schafer has described outrage at a recent look into Australia's top CEO salaries as "totally understandable".

However, he said while some executives do get paid exorbitant amounts, many of them have extraordinary skillsets that few could bring to the table.

On Qantas CEO Alan Joyce being paid about $24 million last year, Mr Schafer said the sum was a reward for Mr Joyce's efforts.

"I think the extraordinary thing about the $24 million salary is that it is related to the increase in Qantas's share price," Mr Schafer said.

"About 60 per cent came from a relative increase in share prices."

However, Mr Schafer did recognise the legitimacy of the debate as to how much executives should be rewarded for a company's performance.

"I think we're seeing unfold across corporate Australia a series of changes," he said, attributing changes and debates to the results of the Royal Commission into banking.

Mr Schafer said while the considerations and needs of customers always needed to be taken into account, there was still a "need to return dividends and have a return for shareholders".

"It's always got to be a balance," he said.

He said if a managing director and their team could bring good profits to a corporation they deserved to be rewarded for those efforts, but a solely profit-driven approach was becoming less common.

But while the input of a multinational corporation on the subject of wealth distribution might not be the most welcome voice, Mr Schafer said it was his personal view that leaders in industry should be using their voice to speak out on a range of social issues.

"If you are a managing director you have a responsibility to your own staff anyway," he said.

He said all matters of social issues, including race relations, same-sex marriage and environmental concerns needed to be addressed internally within companies anyway.

"They have to be taken care of internally for you to have the appropriate culture," he said, adding that it was only logical to extend that approach to the wider world.

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