Managerial Risk-Taking Incentives and the Systemic Risk of Financial Institutions

55 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2017 Last revised: 27 Mar 2020

See all articles by Jamshed Iqbal

Jamshed Iqbal

University of Jyväskylä; University of Vaasa, School of Accounting and Finance

Sami Vähämaa

University of Vaasa

Date Written: October 22, 2018


This paper examines whether the systemic risk of financial institutions is associated with the risk-taking incentives generated by executive compensation. We measure managerial risk-taking incentives with the sensitivities of chief executive officer (CEO) and chief financial officer (CFO) compensation to changes in stock prices (pay-performance sensitivity) and stock return volatility (pay-risk sensitivity). Using data on large U.S. financial institutions over the period 2005–2010, we document a negative association between systemic risk and the sensitivities of CEO and CFO compensation to stock return volatility. However, our results also demonstrate that financial institutions with greater managerial risk-taking incentives were associated with significantly higher levels of systemic risk during the peak of the financial crisis in 2008. We further document that the relation between pay-performance sensitivity and systemic risk is essentially nonexistent. Overall, our empirical findings indicate that the association between managerial risk-taking incentives and banks’ systemic risk is ambiguous and is not stable over time.

Keywords: executive compensation, delta, vega, risk-taking incentives, systemic risk, bank risk-taking, financial crisis

JEL Classification: G01, G20, G21, G30, G32, G34

Suggested Citation

Iqbal, Jamshed and Vähämaa, Sami, Managerial Risk-Taking Incentives and the Systemic Risk of Financial Institutions (October 22, 2018). Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Vol. 53, No. 4, pp. 1229-1258, 2019, 30th Australasian Finance and Banking Conference 2017 , Available at SSRN: or

Jamshed Iqbal (Contact Author)

University of Jyväskylä ( email )

PO Box 35
Jyväskylä, 40014

University of Vaasa, School of Accounting and Finance ( email )

P.O. Box 700
FIN-65101 Vaasa, FI-65101

Sami Vähämaa

University of Vaasa ( email )

P.O. Box 700
Vaasa, FI-65101
+358 29 449 8455 (Phone)


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics