June 8, 2009

Government to set rules on exec pay

The U.S. government is working on executive pay guidelines that seek to rein in risky behavior, sources close to the talks said.

The guidelines would amount to a list of broad principles, for most companies. Companies that received federal assistance on more than one occasion, however, would have stricter mandates, The New York Times reported Monday.

GMAC, American International Group Inc., General Motors Corp., Bank of America and Citigroup would have to apply for federal approval to make any changes in executive pay, the newspaper said.

The Obama administration is trying to rein in big rewards for short-term gains or risks that backfire for their companies.

Banks have resisted the move toward restricting pay. Some have raised pay in advance of the rules they fear will drive away their top talent, the Times said.

If new rules are draconian ... they could put the financial services industry at a distinct disadvantage in retaining top personnel, said Financial Services Roundtable lobbyist Scott Talbott.

If they are just principles, they would be redundant, because the industry has already moved to connect employee compensation with the long-term health of the company, he said.