Klarna CEO Salary Prompts Debate on Executive Compensation in Fintech

Last year was particularly rough for Swedish BNPL fintech Klarna. But it wouldn’t appear so to someone examining the pay packet of its leadership: according to recently released figures, Klarna’s Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Sebastian Siemiatkowski earned £1.05 million in 2022, up by more than a third from the previous year. With rival fintechs from Robinhood to Starling reporting similarly high pay packets despite a dismal financial landscape for the industry at large, some experts have been wondering if fintech executives are being paid too highly for the good of their companies.

“If there is high demand for specific skills that CEOs have that are difficult to find in candidates, then CEOs’ pay will naturally be higher following the law of supply and demand,” said Katherine Farquharson, fintech recruitment agency Storm2 Director, in a recent interview about leadership pay. Drawing on her company’s experience in attracting fintech talent, she pointed out that CEOs can help drive growth and financial performance for an otherwise marginal company.

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“However,” Faquharson added, “some may argue that CEO pay in fintech has risen too high in comparison to the ordinary worker’s wage (especially if the fintech is not doing so well). Perhaps the better question would be: ‘Are fintech CEOs paid too much in comparison to the rest of the employees in their respective companies?’”