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Morgan Stanley’s Gorman Defends 25% Pay Raise

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Morgan Stanley (MS) Chairman and CEO James Gorman says his 25% jump in pay last year to $22.5 million reflects the company’s performance.

“We had three years where the stock went up,” Gorman told CNBC on Thursday. “So the board, representing shareholders, thought that justified very strong performance, not just for myself, but for the leadership of the firm.”

“By the same token, in previous years, when we underperformed, we were paid down, and that’s the way it should be,” he explained in an interview held during the Morgan Stanley China Summit in Beijing.

(Earlier this month, close to 40% of shareholders voted to reject a $20 million pay package for JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon.)

Morgan Stanley’s shares have risen roughly 50% in the past two years, ahead of the Dow Jones’ 18% increase.

Despite the raise, Gorman’s salary was not high enough to place him among the top 10 highest paid CEOs, according to The Associated Press.

According to the AP, No. 10 on that list was Jeffrey Bewkes of Time Warner, who earned $32.7 million. The top paid CEO was David Zaslav of Discovery Communications (DISCA), who received a 368% increase in pay to $156 million in 2014.  

Market Matters

Asked about a jump in interest rates, Gorman says he expect them “to go up this year for the simple reason that zero percent interest rates indicate an economy in crisis. There is no emergency in the U.S., [it] is getting stronger.”

“Look at the facts,” he explained. “The financial sector is strong, consumer debt has dropped dramatically since the crisis, 401(k) plans have had 10-15% increases three years in a row,” he added.

The risk of an asset bubble, Gorman states, is “the bigger issue on my mind.”

As for the medium- to long-term future of China, “That’s what the long term investors are focused on,” he said. “And the story is a great story – tremendous change to come [and] tremendous challenges – but I’m bullish on China.”

— Check out 12 Best & Worst Broker-Dealers: Q1 Earnings, 2015 on ThinkAdvisor.