How much does a top CEO earn? - October 09, 2019

How much does a top CEO earn?

The CEO of an S&P 500 company earns around $12.4 million on average. However, there are huge differences between the exact figures. The highest salary for example is more than 10 times the median: $129.4 million a year. The “worst earners” only make $1 a year. Let’s investigate the details!

Based on Wall Street Journal’s data, gathered who are the best paid CEOs of the S&P 500 companies. They found that the median salary is $12.4 million for these top company leaders. Luckily, they went further than that, and there are other interesting figures to see.

Who earns the most and the least?

The best paid CEOs may surprise you, as they’re not exactly the ones you might expect, or hear about the most. The winner is David M. Zaslav, leader of Discovery. He made $129.4 million last year. The second is the CEO of Linde, an industrial gases and engineering company. Disney of course may be a better-known brand in pop culture. Its CEO earned $65.6 million.


CEO name Company Total pay
David M. Zaslav Discovery $129.4 M
Stephen F. Angel Linde $66.1 M
Robert A. Iger Disney $65.6 M
Richard B. Handler Jefferies $44.7 M
Stephen P. MacMillan Hologic $42 M


The top list of the “poorest” CEOs is a bit trickier. Why? Because some of them earn close to nothing, but that doesn’t mean that they are below the poverty line. CEO of Alphabet, Larry Page, for example earns $1 dollar a year, just like Twitter leader Jack Dorsey. Of course, they have huge stock packages, so they are far from being poor. Legendary investor Warren E. Buffett is also on the list of the worst earners with his $398 thousand salary, but he’s still one of the wealthiest person on Earth.


CEO name Company Total pay
Larry Page Alphabet $1
Jack Dorsey Twitter $1
A. Jayson Adair Copart $203 K
Warren E. Buffett Berkshire Hathaway $398 K
Valentin P. Gapontsev IPG Photonics $1.7 M

Battle for being the richest

Another thing that’s usually ranked among top businessmen is who is the richest. This fight is mostly between Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. According to Forbes, at the time of the writing of this post, Bezos has a $108 billion, while Gates has a $104 billion wealth. They sometimes switch places according to the value of Amazon and Microsoft respectively.

Why is that? Because the wealth of the richest people is often closely connected to the value of their companies. How come? They have stocks, not cash and most of their wealth is kept in their company.

Becoming wealthy is far from impossible

Although we often write about the richest and their habits, being wealthy is not impossible for the everyday people either. Just last week we published a story about how to be a millionaire? Author and expert Tom Corley gathered four different paths which all lead to being rather wealthy in a foreseeable time.

He found that the easiest and safest way to become wealthy is to follow the “saver-investor path”. He wrote at CNBC that “if you start early, it almost always guarantees a lot of money”. What does that mean? It’s possible to reach $1 million by mid-to-late 30s and an average net worth of $3.3 million by mid-50s. Of course, this meant for them a frugal lifestyle, and saving 20% of their incomes.

They also need long-time thinking and discipline, but we believe that’s true for every successful investor.

Disclaimer: This analysis is for general information and is not a recommendation to sell or buy any instrument. Since every investment holds some risk, our main business policy is based on diversification to minimize threats and maximize profits. Innovative Securities’ Profit Max has a diversified portfolio, which contains liquid instruments. This way, our clients can maintain liquidity, while achieving their personal investment goals on the long term.