With the markets taking a beating over the last year and profitability at all-time lows, MyBankTracker’s Magic 8 Ball is predicting an unimpressive earnings season for Wall Street. And, unimpressive annual returns means unimpressive compensation packages. Even worse, this low earnings season might be dragged still lower by the presence of pesky protesting shareholders who seem to think that Wall Street execs are overpaid!
According to the Wall Street Journal, this year’s annual shareholder meetings will be “lively”, whereas previously they were “ritualistic affairs” — here, we think “a mere formality” would have been a better choice of words because ritualistic brings to mind the image of Jamie Dimon wearing a severed goat’s head on top of his own while sacrificing water fowl — where shareholders all tacitly agree to divert ungodly sums of capital to the ruthless managers at the top of the food chain.
This year, some institutional shareholders, those charities and pension funds that invest in these big banks, plan on causing a stink, according to the WSJ. Specifically, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, a charity, “filed proposals asking that directors at Goldman Sachs Bank USA Group Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. address potential reputational damage that big pay packages could bring to the banks.”
Thanks to oppressively draconian financial reform law, Dodd-Frank, banks now have to “hold nonbinding shareholder votes at least once every three years on their executive compensation policies” (emphasis mine). The Nathaniel Cummings Foundation proposal likely won’t go far. But if they can round up a larger posse in 2015, maybe they can get executives to forego millions of dollars in compensation by holding a nonbinding vote. And by “maybe”, I mean “almost certainly not.”
In related news, the Wall Street Journal also reported that bank compensation is going to be the lowest since 2008 — the year that Wall Street almost crashed the global financial system, and decided to reward themselves less handsomely than in years before. Some bond traders at Goldman Sachs Bank USA, for example, won’t be taking any bonuses home. Morgan Stanley traders can expect to see their compensation to be as much as 40% lower than last year, says the WSJ.
But these are the traders, the day laborers of Wall Street. Their pay cuts will be tough to take, and we’re certain the boards of directors of these firms will feel badly doling them out, as they lavish themselves with bonuses. If only executive compensations committees weren’t stuffed full of other executives, who also expect to be compensated generously. Even Wall Street has its own one percent.