Compensation Steadily Decreasing as Most Important Aspect of Job Satisfaction as Revealed in Smith & Wilkinson 5th Annual Commercial Lender Salary Survey

New data from Smith & Wilkinson, a leading banking executive search firm, indicates that a growing number of commercial lenders feel  company culture and the ability to get along with team members are the most important components of job satisfaction.  The firm’s  5th Annual Commercial Lender Salary Survey sought to gain insight from commercial lenders throughout the Northeast, Mid-West and Mid-Atlantic relating to salaries, bonuses and raises segmented out and tied to tenure, location, bank ownership, and loan production.  The survey polled 846 commercial lenders who were either team leaders or individual contributors.

When respondents were asked what was most important to them at the workplace, 47 percent of team leaders said coworkers and company culture were their first priority.  Individual contributors echoed the same response, with 34 percent ranking these factors as their first concern. These figures are reflective of a growing trend among candidates who are prioritizing workplace environment over compensation. Forty percent of team leader respondents in 2011 felt these factors were the most important job attributes, compared to 47 percent in 2013.

“The data that we see in this year’s survey, regarding what lenders feel is most important at work, reflects what our recruiters are seeing with banking candidates every day,” says Carll Wilkinson, managing partner of Smith & Wilkinson. “It ultimately goes back to the importance of developing a sound employer branding strategy to attract, hire and retain the best talent in the industry. In our candidate-driven market where top candidates are being sought by multiple banking and financial institutions, future employers have to realize that their organization’s brand, as well as the experience or perception that staff provide during the interviewing process will be the most important factors that are evaluated by exceptional talent.”

Individual Contributor Survey Highlights:

  • Average base salary again increased modestly from 2012 to 2013.
  • There was a slight uptick to 16% from 13% indicating a plan on retiring in the near future.
  • Cash bonuses showed a consistent correlation with production.
  • 34% say coworkers/team members and overall culture is most important as opposed to 20% who say compensation was most important.

Team Leader Survey Highlights:

  • Average base salary and cash bonuses showed a direct correlation with production.
  • Unlike the Individual Contributor survey, average bonuses peaked between 20-25 years of experience.
  • Almost half of participants preferred a good team/coworker environment over anything else.

About the Smith & Wilkinson 5th Annual Commercial Lender Salary Survey:

The Smith & Wilkinson Commercial Lender Salary Survey was conducted between October 29 and December 8, 2013 via a web-based survey with a total of 846 commercial lenders responding (458 individual contributors and 388 team leaders).

The survey was conducted by Smith and Wilkinson and compiled by Carll Wilkinson (207.510.6666, ext. 3128 | This was the 5th edition of the study, which is conducted on an annual basis. Parties interested in viewing the complete survey results can download it from:

About Smith & Wilkinson:

Operating since 1998, Smith & Wilkinson is an executive search firm specializing in the community bank and credit union industries. Our staffs of highly trained recruiters deliver unparalleled results for the hundreds of banking clients throughout the Mid-West, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. For more information on Smith & Wilkinson visit or contact us at 207.510.6666.