How to Run Banks

I just read this interesting piece on the New York Times website where due to the change in how the companies that work on Wall Street have changed their corporate structure has had massive effects on how they work but the bit that really stuck out was

When Goldman went public in 1999, unlike other firms it decided that a group of its 400 or so top executives would get paid not out of the firm’s revenues, but instead from the firm’s pretax profits. If the firm has no pretax profits in any given year, these executives get (only) their six-figure salaries, not the tens of millions in bonuses they count on.

As a result, the senior brass at Goldman is hyperfocused on making sure the firm is always profitable, and it always has been. This may very well be the precise reason that Goldman alone saw the brewing mortgage meltdown and did something about it.

When other firms were losing billions of dollars in 2007 as the mortgage market exploded, Goldman made $17.6 billion in pretax profits, one of its most profitable years ever, and its top three executives split around $200 million. You would think the rest of Wall Street would emulate Goldman’s approach to compensating its top executives. But it hasn’t.

It a good read if you have 10 mins – Opinionator: Make Wall Street Risk It All