The Devil is in the Details

Yesterday, the US Treasury released highlights of its proposed Executive Compensation Rules associated with the $700 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (“EESA”).  Here is a summary of the key provisions.

Any financial institution participating in the Capital Purchase Program will be subject to more stringent executive compensation rules for the period during which Treasury holds equity issued under this program. The financial institution must meet certain standards, including: (1) ensuring that incentive compensation for senior executives does not encourage unnecessary and excessive risks that threaten the value of the financial institution; (2) required clawback of any bonus or incentive compensation paid to a senior executive based on statements of earnings, gains, or other criteria that are later proven to be materially inaccurate; (3) prohibition on the financial institution from making any golden parachute payment to a senior executive based on the Internal Revenue Code provision; and (4) agreement not to deduct for tax purposes executive compensation in excess of $500,000 for each senior executive. 

While this sounds good enough, there is a great deal of room for interpretation that may or may not help deal with the real problem at hand.  If you read my blog entry on September 24, you will have a better appreciation for the incentive programs leading to firms taking excessive risks.   The senior executives’ pay packages certainly added to the problem, but the great extent of the excessive risk taking is found throughout the institutions’ trading floors and mortgage origination ranks.  So, how will the Treasury ensure excessive risks are not taken by non-senior executives?  As with everything, the devil is certainly in the details.  I’m sure there will be more debate once the detailed rules are released. Stay tuned.


About Wheelhouse Advisors
Wheelhouse Advisors LLC is the publisher of The ERM Current™, an online publication and blog dedicated to providing the latest updates on current trends in Enterprise Risk Management & Control. Wheelhouse Advisors provides cost-effective Enterprise Risk Management & Control solutions to both large and mid-size corporations. To learn more about Wheelhouse Advisors, please visit our web site at

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