Current Events

Pay for pay?

You’ve heard of pay-for-play, right? How about pay-for-pay?

Here’s an idea that seems to make some sense. Don’t limit Wall Street pay and bonuses, but require higher FDIC premium payments if a bank’s pay structure is deemed to be “risky”, such as incentive bonuses for writing more loans (which leads to bankers writing riskier loans).

FDIC to bonus-loving banks: Pay up!

NEW YORK ( — The nation’s top banking regulator is considering a new rule which could require lenders to pony up if they rely on potentially risky pay practices.

In a proposal made Tuesday, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said it wants employee compensation to be another factor in how it determines payments banks are required to make in order to support the agency’s deposit insurance fund.

In essence, banks that continue to dangle lucrative incentives in front of employees for making questionable loans, for example, would have to pay more than their fair share.

Many critics have cited that risky pay practices were not only a factor in the collapse of such large financial institutions as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers but also many of the regional and community lenders that have gone under over the past two years.

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair noted however, that the proposal would not seek to limit pay of bank employees or its executives. Instead, the FDIC wants to push banks to tie pay with the company’s long-term performance.

“This is not about levels, it is about structure,” Bair said during a press conference Tuesday.

Now, as all of you know, I’m a good little liberal … but I’m also a good little capitalist. I think regulation is a good thing, but there is such a thing as overreaching regulation. And Sheila Bair’s suggestion seems like a good compromise … no limits on how or how much bank employees are compensated, but higher FDIC premium payments if compensation is tied too much to short-term quarterly or annual results, rather than long-term performance.

Like many people, I want to get paid, and I want to get paid well … but I’d also rather that my firm stick around for the long haul, and that it continue to perform well. I’d like to make my career at Morgan Stanley, and this means that I want the company to be doing as well (or better) in 2033 when I retire as it did in 2007. But I didn’t get a raise or a bonus last year (not even a cost-of-living adjustment), and it’s still unknown whether people at my level will be getting any sort of compensation increases for this year. I figure we’ll find out after our earnings are announced next week. My fingers are crossed, but I’m not expecting anything … hopefully, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

One Reply to “Pay for pay?

  1. Could be worse. You could lose income when you get sick. You could be told you can’t apply for full time work within the company because they need you as a temp. So I guess it is ok to take my talents elsewhere so I can get full time work and benefits? Too big to fail or too stupid to continue?

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