Like the companies they run and oversee, CEOs and boards of directors in the financial sector have been battered by the credit meltdown. The witch’s brew of high leverage, poor risk management, creation of toxic assets, and faulty business judgments—made more poisonous by excessive short-term executive pay—are seen as failures of an unprecedented magnitude. The result: Credibility has eroded, trust has dissolved, and financial re-regulation seems inevitable.
As Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs (GS), said recently in a speech to the Council of Institutional Investors: “…[T]he past year has been deeply humbling for my industry…the loss of public confidence…will take years to rebuild…effective reform(s) are vital and should naturally emanate from the lessons learned.”
To this end, I believe there are four fundamental, interrelated governance changes inside corporations that are essential for enhancing accountability and increasing stakeholder confidence: