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Friday, February 27, 2009

Bank Shareholders Now Have a Say in CEO Compensation

Shareholders of three big Canadian banks have won the right to vote on top banker’s compensation. YES!!!

This is encouraging and I hope it is the start of a trend for a more activitist shareholder and investor approach. We need the individual corporate owners to particularly push their enterprises to pursue a more integrated economic and ecological approach to doing business.

Canadian banks are the best run in the world and some of our CEO’s have volunteered to reduce personal compensation and some have donated the difference to charity. The recent announcements of 1st QTR profits from 4 of the 6 top Canadian banks are very encouraging as well. Increased reserves for pending bad news are being made and loans to creditworthy customers are still happening.

The changing times are showing that shareholders and investors are getting more engaged as corporate owners. This move toward non-binding shareholder votes on executive compensation is a step the right direction. The non-binding vote is a smart move. It sets a tone and sends a message about shareholder mood.

The discrepancy between the most highly paid and the lowest workers in our society seem to be growing and will have serious social cohesion implications for the country.
It was the poorly managed banks and investment houses in the States and the negligence of bankers and investment “professionals” in the rest of the work who sold crap paper that that got the world wide into this economic crisis.

I expect to see a major housecleaning of many of the boardrooms of a wide range of Canadian public companies as the social license to operate responsibilities starts to sink in. Shareholders and consumers will start to act based on ethical investment and purchasing approaches. Then we will see a systemic and fundamental change in the role and responsibility of business.