MADISON, Wis.-Credit union CEO total compensation, including salary and bonuses, increased an average of 5.93% over the past 12 months, the highest since 2008, according to the 2012 CUES Executive Compensation Survey.

The average covers the period May 1, 2011 through April 30, 2012, and compares to an average hike of 5.01% in 2011 and of 2.54% in 2010, which was the lowest of the past decade.

The average base with bonus compensation for CEOs for credit unions over $1 billion in assets rose last year to $523,694, with those under $30 million averaging $86,582. The average compensation for all credit union CEOs was $260,807.

The findings are based on a survey of 578 credit unions conducted by enetrix, a division of Gallup.

Most (61%) credit unions that participated in this year's survey also participated in last year's survey, allowing for a calculation of true salary change for those participants. Among those findings:

* 4.93% increase in CEO base salary (4.37% in 2011, 3.62% in 2010, 5.37% in 2009, 7.11% in 2008, 8.02% in 2007, and 8.50% in 2006). The $400 to $599 million asset size group had the largest average increase at 6.40%;

* 5.93% increase in CEO base salary plus bonus/incentive paid (5.01% in 2011, 2.54% in 2010, 4.76% in 2009, 7.34% in 2008, 8.50% in 2007, and 9.58% in 2006). The $1 billion or more asset group had the largest average increase at in salary plus bonus/incentive paid at 8.86%; and

* 5.83% increase in CEO total compensation (5.07% in 2011, 2.39% in 2010, 4.87% in 2009, 7.38% in 2008, 8.81% in 2007, and 9.75% in 2006). The $1 billion or more asset group increased total compensation by 8.94%.

"After several years of decline, the percentage increase in base salary has been increased year to year," CUES reported. "Both the percentage increase for base plus bonus/incentive paid and percentage increase in total compensation are slightly higher than last year's findings."

The top factors for determining CEO bonus/incentive awards remain the same as the last few years with board evaluation, earnings and loan growth rounding out the top three factors, CUES said.

CEOs weren't the only executives to see increases. CUES said non-CEO executive compensation increases in total compensation ranged from 3.02% to 13.51% for repeat participants, with the greatest percentage change reported for the business development executive.

While more than 80% of CEOs have worked in the CU industry for more than 15 years, CUES said this year's survey did show signs of turnover at the top. "More than 45% of chief executives have been in their current jobs for less than 10 years, compared to 22.2% who have led their organizations for more than 20 years," CUES reported.

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