The boss of ANZ - the country's largest bank - received a pay rise of almost 14 per cent for the 2013 financial year, pushing his remuneration package over $4 million.
ANZ chief executive David Hisco, who has presided over a 10 per cent cut in staff numbers in the past year, received remuneration worth $4.17 million in the year to September 30 - up from $3.67 million in the previous year.
During that time the bank's statutory profit rose 8 per cent to $1.37 billion.
Hisco's base salary remained the same at $1 million but he received higher non-monetary benefits, cash, and short and long-term equity incentives.
In 2013 he also had equity vest from short-term incentives granted as part of his remuneration package in 2010 and 2011.
His package also included equity to the value of $796,335 for meeting long-term incentives set out in 2009.
Hisco became the New Zealand chief executive of the ANZ in September 2010 and has been with the bank for more than 30 years.
But his banking rivals did not fare so well. BNZ boss Andrew Thorburn had his remuneration slashed by more than 10 per cent to $2.92 million and Westpac chief Peter Clare suffered a pay cut of 6 per cent to $3.14 million despite profit growth in their businesses.
Neither ASB Bank or its parent the Commonwealth Bank of Australia disclosed the remuneration of ASB chief executive Barbara Chapman. An ASB spokesman said under the Australian Corporations Act, the chief executive's salary was not required to be disclosed.
Massey University banking professor David Tripe said it was "extraordinarily hard" to determine if bank bosses were being paid fairly.
"These are large entities."
Tripe said the standard argument was to say that the pay packages of top executives met the market.
"If you look at what their peers are getting in Australia, and in many of these cases the executives are going back and forth to Australia, it is unreasonable to pick on them individually."
Tripe said only Fletcher Building and Telecom were of similar size to the banks in New Zealand and even they were smaller.
"ANZ has equity of $10 billion and is bigger than any other company in New Zealand."
Tripe said it was important to take into account that an element of top executive pay could be deferred from previous years.
Executives also had some of their pay at risk - meaning they could miss out on getting paid some of the money if they failed to reach certain targets.
"I think it is reasonable they have some sort of remuneration at risk."