Executive Compensation and Business Policy Choices at U.S. Commercial Banks*
45 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2009
Date Written: September 1, 2009
This study examines whether and how the terms of CEO compensation contracts at large, publicly traded commercial banks between 1994 and 2006 influenced, and were influenced by, the risk-profiles of these firms. We find evidence linking contractual risk-taking incentives, which we proxy with standard measures of vega and delta, to risk-increasing business policy choices. Moreover, these linkages became stronger after 1999, when financial industry deregulation created new growth opportunities for commercial banks. Our results suggest that compensation committees provided new incentives for bank CEOs to exploit these growth opportunities, and also to shift from traditional on-balance sheet portfolio lending to less traditional investments (e.g., private-issue mortgage-backed securities) and nontraditional fee-generating activities. Apart from these strategic reallocations, our results also suggest that bank boards designed CEO compensation contracts to limit excessive risk taking, especially after deregulation.
Keywords: Executive compensation, business policy, commercial banks
JEL Classification: G21, G31, J33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation