Morgan Stanley and Bank of America were the latest major banks to report solid earnings on Wednesday, though both firms reported a smaller increase in expenses than rivals like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, which faced surging compensation costs.
Unlike many of its rivals, Morgan Stanley largely kept a lid on compensation expenses, which were below analyst estimates and remained virtually unchanged from a year earlier at $5.49 billion.
Bank of America, meanwhile, saw a slight rise in noninterest expenses to $14.7 billion—6% higher than a year ago—due to higher pay for employees.
Both firms somewhat bucked the trend with their fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday with a smaller increase in expenses than rival banks, several of which have disclosed skyrocketing compensation costs.
Goldman Sachs said Tuesday overall operating expenses surged to $7.27 billion last quarter, 23% more than a year ago, thanks to “significantly higher” pay for bank employees—with compensation costs alone jumping 31% to $3.25 billion due to “wage inflation.”
JPMorgan Chase reported last Friday that expenses jumped 11% to $17.9 billion, with the bank also slashing guidance on company-wide returns due to “headwinds,” including wage inflation and other “inflationary pressures.”
Citigroup, meanwhile, saw a steep drop in profits—with net income falling 26% in the fourth quarter, while operating expenses increased 18% from a year ago, to $13.5 billion, amid “competitive pressure” on wages and pay.
Wells Fargo is spending less. Unlike rivals that saw surging costs, Wells Fargo’s noninterest expenses for the quarter came in at $13.2 billion, down nearly 11% from a year ago thanks to ongoing cost-cutting measures, the bank said Friday.
Morgan Stanley and Bank of America saw their stocks rally on Wednesday, each rising around 1.5%. Shares of other major banks weren’t so lucky in recent days, however, getting hit immediately after earnings. JPMorgan Chase saw its stock fall nearly 6% on Friday, while Citigroup fell over 2%. Wells Fargo was the exception, with shares jumping nearly 3% that day after its earnings beat. Shares of Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, fell 7% on Tuesday after reporting surging expenses and compensation for employees.
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