Who's next to split chairman and CEO jobs?
When you get right down to it, shareholders tend to get much more worked up about executive compensation than they do about compensation of independent chairman.
To be sure, adding an independent chairman to oversee the CEO strikes many as a good idea. Proxy advisory firms regularly support such initiatives, but it would be unwise to expect shareholders to muster the support needed to pass such a proposal anytime soon, though they might get a somewhat high percentage of votes.
JPMorgan Chase offers a nice look at the issue. Jamie Dimon is indeed something of a celebrity CEO. But this week, ISS said that "total shareholder returns for J.P. Morgan have recently trailed peers significantly. Over the past three years, ISS says J.P. Morgan's shareholder returns have risen 3.3 percent, compared to a 13 percent gain for its peer group. Dimon has been chairman and CEO since 2006," notes Deal Journal.
The ISS said in a release that, "JPM has a robust presiding director, independent board and key committees, and established governance guidelines. Given the company's lagging shareholder returns, however, shareholders could benefit from independent leadership on the board."
With that said, ISS also supports the JPMorgan executive pay plan, and that's the issue that really galvanizes bank shareholders. Just look at the Citigroup results. So far, bank boards are getting by with moves to install new independent directors and "presiding directors." But you have to wonder how long they can hold if their shareholders continue to suffer.
So which bank do you think will be next to split the job? Bank of America and Citigroup have separate chairman. Morgan Stanley had John Mack serve as chairman emeritus before handing the reins to CEO James Gorman.
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