Compensation

Y'all can kiss this ear to ear grin good-bye

In the spring of 2010, almost exactly two years ago to date, the New York Times reported that some of Vikram Pandit’s top lieutenants had noticed “a new bounce in his step” and “a smile on his face,” with one executive speculating that the Citi CEO’s cheer could be attributed to the fact that he was starting to “see the day when he will earn more than $1 a year” as being within reach. On January 18, 2011, that day came. After essentially not receiving a salary since 2008, when he pledged to abstain from getting paid until Citi turned a profit, the board of directors approved “an increase in the annual rate of base salary for Vikram from $1 per year to $1,750,000 per year, effective immediately.” It felt good. Really good. Smiles and bouncing as far as the eye could see good. Know what does’t feel so good? This crap. Read more »

How does a nanny earn more than the average pediatrician? The simple answer is hard work — plus a strange seller’s market that follows a couple of quirky economic principles. A typical high-priced nanny effectively signs her (and they are almost always women) life over to the family she works for…And, alas, it seems that there just aren’t enough “good” nannies, always on call, to go around. Especially since a wealthy family’s demands can be pretty specific. According to Pavillion’s vice president, Seth Norman Greenberg, a nanny increases her market value if she speaks fluent French (or, increasingly, Mandarin); can cook a four-course meal (and, occasionally, macrobiotic dishes); and ride, wash and groom a horse. Greenberg has also known families to prize nannies who can steer a 32-foot boat, help manage an art collection or, in one case, drive a Zamboni to clean a private ice rink. [NYT via BI, related]

What is the best thing about these Jefferies bonuses? For me it’s this:

For 2011, we offered our employees the option to receive the stock portion of their year-end compensation in the form of either shares or cash, with the cash amount being equal to 75% of the grant-date amount of the stock that an employee would otherwise receive. The election resulted in a decrease to share-based compensation expense of approximately $23.3 million, as certain employees elected to receive reduced cash awards lieu of the full grant-date amount of the shares. This offset increased cash compensation expense by approximately $17.5 million. The net effect of this election on total compensation and benefits expense was a reduction of approximately $5.8 million. While these cash awards were fully expensed in 2011, they will legally vest in future periods.

When I first skimmed the headline I thought, okay, paying a 25% discount for liquidity makes sense. I, anyway, would be a lot wealthier had I gotten … really almost any percentage of my stock-based comp in cash rather than vaporizing most of it and leaving a small stub subject to a nondisparagement agreement when I left (I love you guys!), but that is neither here nor there. Because that’s not actually what the Jeffererers got. The people taking the “cash” got no more liquidity or vestedness or, um, cash, than the people taking the shares. They got … at a first approximation, they got an illiquid JEF bond. If they’re around, and Jefferies is around, and the cash is around, in three years or whenever this stuff vests, then they get a fixed amount of money. If not, not.

So the only thing that the Jeffers got for giving up 25% of their stock-based comp was … avoiding the risk that Jefferies stock would decline by more than 25%. Here’s a silly coincidence: Read more »

  • 23 Jan 2012 at 1:58 PM

Bonus Watch ’11: Credit Suisse

A couple weeks back, a report circulated that Wall Street banks were considering freezing compensation for junior employees. The firms were hesitating, however, supposedly on account of the backlash they feared would occur from failing to keep “potential future stars…engaged and happy.” Yes, they were terrified at the consequences of how their junior mistmakers would react to the news and didn’t want to pull the trigger unless everyone promised to do the same, preventing a dire situation wherein a handful of first and second  year analysts quit to join firms where their unique talents would be appreciated. Credit Suisse CEO Brady Dougan, for one, has decided not to be afraid anymore. Read more »

  • 18 Jan 2012 at 12:26 PM
  • Banks

Goldman Sachs Now Paying Employees For A Full Year Of Work

I know I’ve said that the Jamie & Doug in the Morning Show is the best call-in program in finance, given Jamie Dimon’s reliably amusing anti-regulation rant, but the true connoisseur should also really get a kick out of David Viniar’s calmer, wonkier, more NPR-appropriate chat. I certainly do. We’ll maybe have more to say about it later.

My enjoyment is, however, complicated by the fact that at this time of year I feel certain feelings. Specifically, feelings about Goldman Sachs comp, which will be terrible, horrible, down 115%, whatever, and yet … still … somehow … I want it. Have we talked about this before? Sometimes I miss investment banking. A thing that some people not in the industry don’t know about investment banking is that it is an awesome job, in the specific sense that many people would do it for free, or even pay money to do it, and in the even more specific sense that sometimes they do. (For, um, fairly loose definitions of “pay money.”) This happened twice during my time at Goldman. Let’s all luxuriate in a chart:
Read more »

  • 18 Jan 2012 at 11:13 AM

Bonus Watch ’12: JPMorgan

The take-away here is put in for that transfer to Brazil? From the front lines: Read more »

Hey, so, if you work at a bank, you may have heard about this, not sure, but your comp will be down. Just a bit. Unless you’re a junior mistmaker Chez Dimon. But otherwise, yeah. Down.

Another thing you may be less aware of is that some people are actually not so unhappy about that. A few of them even think that it’s possible that your pay should be down some more. And they think someone should really look into that:

Giant firms are expected to cut executive pay by some 30% from 2010 levels, consultants say. And since the financial crisis of 2008, firms have reduced cash bonuses, increased their use of company stock and added clauses that allow them to recoup—or “claw back”—pay in certain circumstances.

Even so, some investors want more changes. In December, the Nathan Cummings Foundation—a private charitable organization and institutional shareholder—filed proposals asking that directors at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. address potential reputational damage that big pay packages could bring to the banks, said Laura Campos, director of shareholder activities at the foundation. The proposals also request that they study how such awards could reduce banks’ ability to spend money on other areas, and report those findings to shareholders.

Shareholder resolution activists (not to be confused with, like, real activists) are mostly pretty silly creatures and this is a pretty good example of why. The Journal tries valiantly to make the efforts of Nathan Cummings and his eponymous foundation relevant to the hot-button issue of how much bankers get paid, but it’s pretty clear that the NCF is focused on a thing called “executive pay.” Executive pay is sort of an irrelevancy for investment banks, mostly, since it makes up a relatively small fraction of comp, and since lots of people at banks get paid executive amounts of money without being a named executive officer. And as long as the Nathan Cummingseses of the world are focusing on how much the Lloyds/Jamies/James-not-Jamies of the world are getting, they will probably stay away from your now-30%-paltrier comp.

Other fearless crusaders for shareholders have noticed this, however, and are more interested in going directly after your money, though they have yet to resort to the rather infra dig expedient of shareholder resolutions. Instead they do things like complain to Andrew Ross Sorkin, who earlier this week said: Read more »