Stifel Gives Staffers Special Tax-Gift Bonus
Stifel Financial Corp. Chief Executive Ron Kruszewski played Santa Claus two days before Christmas, telling most of the financial company’s approximately 7,000 salaried employees that they will receive an extra $1,500 bonus funded by expected benefits from the new tax law.
The St. Louis-based financial firm, whose biggest revenue source is its Stifel Nicolaus retail brokerage network, joined a range of companies quickly announcing they would leverage expected benefits of the Republican-sponsored tax overhaul bill passed last week to build goodwill with workers and with the bill’s congressional backers.
“This additional $1,500 payment is in recognition of your hard work and efforts this year to make Stifel a success, as well as the positive environment that we anticipate the tax legislation passed this week by Congress will create for Stifel,” Kruszewski wrote in personalized emails to salaried employees that greeted them by their first names.
The money, which will supplement the 2017 end-of-year bonus that Stifel paid to employees last week, will be paid early in 2018, the memo said. The company’s approximately 3,000 brokers, who are compensated primarily with a percentage of the fees and commissions they produce, are not eligible for the one-time payment.
A Stifel executive declined to specify how much the firm will spend on the tip-of-the-tax-hat bonus, other than to say that it affects “the majority” of its non-exempt, non-executive employees in areas such as operations and administrative support. The company is still determining how much it expects the new tax law to enhance its bottom line, he said.
The brokerage firm joins a host of companies that last week announced trickle-down effects of the newly passed bill, which will lower the top corporate tax rate in the U.S. to 20% from 35% beginning in 2018.
AT&T and Comcast are paying $1,000 bonuses to hundreds of thousands of employees, and Wells Fargo Corp. and Fifth Third Bancorp greeted the bill’s passage with plans to boost the minimum wage for their non-exempt, non-executive employees to $15 an hour. (Wells also announced it would give $400 million to charitable organizations.) A spokeswoman at Wells said Wells Fargo Advisors’ salaried employees are included, but declined to say how many are at the minimum-wage level.
Bank of America, which in February raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour, said it will share its anticipated tax-bill benefits by giving a $1,000 bonus before this year ends to around 145,000 employees who make less than $150,000 in total compensation. Spokespeople at BofA’s Merrill Lynch wealth unit did not respond to requests for comment on how many of its employees are eligible for the bonus.
Stifel is the first regional retail brokerage business known to have jumped on the tax-benefit passalong bandwagon, but is not unique among regional financial firms. Lincoln, Nebraska-based Pinnacle Bank, for example, said Friday that it will “share the benefit of the tax cut passed by Congress” with a $1,000 bonus to its full-time employees.
Spokespeople at larger broker-dealers, including Ameriprise Financial, UBS Financial Services and Raymond James Financial, did not respond to requests for comment on whether they plan to give employees a tax-benefit boost. A spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley declined to comment.
Some Democrats and labor unions have criticized the corporate largesse as gestures aimed at helping the Trump Administration showboat the tax law overhaul. Raising pay for middle-class Americans would be more effective economic stimuli than one-time bonuses that are expected to be a sliver of the stock-buyback and dividend boosts that corporate shareholders are likely to gain.
“Corporations are flush with cash right now,” Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said last Wednesday after the bill was passed. “The stock market’s booming. Job creation isn’t. Look at all the companies that have already said they’re going to use their tax break for stock buybacks, for dividends that don’t affect average Americans.”