Highest Paid Chief Executives in Senior Living

It should come as no surprise that leaders of the largest publicly traded real estate investment trusts in senior housing—and the nation’s largest provider—topped this list of highest paid senior living executives in 2016.

Company leaders at Welltower (NYSE: HCN), Ventas (NYSE: VTR) and Brookdale Senior Living (NYSEBKD) made the most in total compensation in 2016, which includes base salary, stock awards, bonuses and non-equity incentive plans, according to the most recent annual proxy statements filed by public senior living companies and investors with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Welltower and Ventas are real estate investment trusts (REITs) that are among the largest owners of private-pay senior housing properties nationally, while Brookdale is the largest senior living owner and operator in the country.


There are some additional big players with significant senior living assets that were excluded from this list, such as Colony NorthStar (NYSE: CLNS) and Fortress Investment Group (NYSE: FIG). Those firms have sizable holdings across various industries, however, while companies like Ventas and Welltower are focused on health care, with senior housing among their core investments.

Had the company been included, Colony NorthStar Executive Chairman David T. Hamamoto easily would have topped the ranking, as he brought in $20,433,300 in 2016.

Additionally, not all the major publicly traded senior housing companies made the list. For example, even though chief executives at Five Star Senior Living (NYSE: FVE), Capital Senior Living (NYSE: CSU) and New Senior Investment Group (NYSE: SNR) all made in excess of a million dollars, they still fell below the bottom threshold for the top seven earners.


Here’s the full breakdown of the top earners:

The above list does not include current HCP CEO Tom Herzog, who officially took the role on Jan. 1. In his previous position as HCP’s CFO, Herzog is listed as earning $6,173,368 in total compensation in 2016 with a base salary of $334,849.

Of the three top earners, Welltower’s Thomas DeRosa made the most overall with a total compensation of $13,734,354 in 2016. But the highest salary went to Ventas CEO Debra Cafaro, who took home a baseline of $1,075,000 that year.

Not every high-earning CEO earned more than the previous year, according to the filings. DeRosa took in nearly $3 million less in total compensation in 2016 than he did in his 2015, when he earned $11,757,068. And Cafaro took home a diminished total compensation in 2016 than she did the previous year, when she earned $10,923,710.

Neither CEO’s base salary dipped, year over year, however.

It’s also important to note that many of the listed executives likely took home more than the SEC filings suggest. Though publicly traded companies are required to report a “fair value” for stock awards and options, that valuation is determined on the day they’re awarded, not cashed out, according to the Wall Street Journal. Other fluctuating pay metrics, such as performance target incentives, also muddy the waters.

Written by Tim Regan

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