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Recently "retiring" Morgan Stanley CEO Phil Purcell gets a $106 million separation package for screwing up the venerable firm. And they say corporate governance is mended following Sarbanes-Oxley?
Tom Peters posted this on 07/14/05.
How does one foster the motivation to go to work every day knowing that regardless of how they perform they have $100 million waiting for them in the light at the end of the tunnel? What incentive is there to effectively manage the organization?
Posted by Dau at July 14, 2005 11:44 AM
The satisfaction of beating the pants off your competitors? The enormous pleasure that comes from successfully motivating people to be the best at what they do? Money is just a way of keeping score. The real pleasure is in the performance.
Not suggesting this is what Purcell accomplished by any means.
Posted by Noel Guinane at July 14, 2005 3:00 PM
Not to be too indignant, but I wish the public could see how that compensation package was developed - what did that man do for $100 million dollar package. I think a company that rewards a person that kind of money needs to have its charter questioned. $100 million dollars would put a dent in the aids crisis in Africa, help to discover a cure for cancer, help poverty world wide, what do you think he will do with the $100 million dollars...once you have a boat, mansion, designer clothes and top of the line car, what is left? Maybe he could give money to all those families that Bernie descimated? He might look like a hero then but as it stands now, he is just another greedie person who worked the system. Too bad he won't reap the admiration, respect, and love that teachers, caretakers, nurses (you fill in all the other underpaid professions in our society that mean so much to us) whose caring and compassion make them unforgettable contributors in our lives - I don't think he will reap that kind of meaningful respect but ...with all that money he probably doesn't care...there is something so obscene about that package..
Posted by suzanne g. at July 14, 2005 3:03 PM
Noel, I intellectually agree that the money is "keeping score" for the Purcells of the world. (And Bernie Ebbers.) But remember the old saying (I don't): "If if smells like a fish, if it swims like a fish, etc ... it's probably a fish." (Or some such.) The Purcell package simply can't pass the man on the street's "stink test." I am a Raging Capitalist Pig ... but deals like Purcell's could well lead to Sarbanes-Oxley II ... and that would be a shame.
Posted by tom peters at July 14, 2005 4:57 PM
Ignore, just for a moment, the morals of such a large pay-out and consider recent events:
- Your company is fined $19m by the NYSE for, "supervisory, operational and technological deficiencies" in some of their operations.
- The courts fine you $604.3m in damages after losing a fraud case to Ronald Perelman in the Sunbeam fraud case (under appeal, we ought to note).
- You agree to pay a $186.5m settlement with collapsed Italian dairy group Parmalat relating to a 2003 bond deal.
- 8 senior execs quit and you acknowledge a serious morale problem.
- Your share price is tumbling down.
This pay-out stinks. Jack Welch got a highly contentious award but, whatever you think about the terms, that was reward for success. It doesn't matter what Mr. Purcell did before - he's been rewarded for that in the past. An award of this size in these circumstances is simply indefensible.
Be interesting to see this one put to the shareholders, not the remuneration committee.
Posted by Mark JF at July 14, 2005 5:26 PM
Great details Mark. Thanks.
Posted by tom peters at July 14, 2005 5:30 PM
This is Psycho Capitalism, not Ethical Capitalism.
This type of thing, CEOs being paid much for doing little, is what makes them unpopular.
The front line workers treated like disposable slaves. Customer service offshore outsourced.
Greed and selfishness.
What is most amusing to me is the insane materialism, the frenzied insatiability, the fervent drive to accumulate.
Money, wrongly obtained, jinxes the recipient, whether CEO or homeless thief.
A new low for corporate credibility and board of director rationality.
Posted by Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate at July 14, 2005 5:59 PM
I printed this story when I first read it online. Tom I also agree it would be a shame for a Sarbanes-Oxley II to come out of this, so how do we stop this insanity. From short falls in corporate pensions to those that have giving more to those that have, where do we stop talking and do something about it. Remember that the ceo over Kmart when they filed for bankruptcy was the same ceo with Builders Square when they filed for bankruptcy. How do these horses asses continue to be hired. And there is so much written about lying on your resume.
The good old boy system works well for the good old boys. A ceo making millions per year in salary and stock options should not need a funded retirement plan. And Morgan Stanley is afraid of him joining a rival firm. If the NYSE had any integrity (balls) they would immediately fine any company that hired Purcells. Sadly we will just continue to talk and debate.
Posted by Randy Reynolds at July 14, 2005 8:51 PM
Morgan Stanley can afford to do so and the rest of the people who work there wish they get a severance like this!!
How many people here would turn down a bonus or ask for a lesser amount if you recieve something that doesn't directly relate to your performance that year? C'mon..easy to point fingers always.
Posted by fullymubbed at July 14, 2005 10:34 PM
I disagree, fullymubbed, because I think this isn't just about an annual bonus or receiving something that doesn't directly relate to your performance that year. This is about a severance payment to the CEO of a major corporation who has presided over the scandals I mention above. Even if he had no direct involvement, how can you justify such a reward for a CEO who has that scale of problem occur on his watch? In the ideal world, Mr. Purcell would turn down or give away to charity a large proportion of this payment. In the real world, I suspect there's a legal agreement behind it that prevents all involved from any further public washing of Morgan Stanley's dirty washing.
My complaint / point is this: what kind of company stewardship is it that firstly accepts and secondly gives such a settlement for this record of failure? The guy ought to have been fired - indeed, he ought to have walked before that - and not been rewarded like this. If I was a shareholder, I'd be livid.
There's a good post from Tom O'Leary in the "2+"..." thread that relates to this.
Posted by Mark JF at July 15, 2005 2:38 AM
Tom, I agree. Purcell's payout is indefensible considering his record of performance. However, in the case of other CEO's who have been given similarly 'obscene' payments, but who have performed well for their companies, maybe even turned them around and made tons of money for their shareholders, I don't have a problem with them being paid enormous sums of money for what they achieved.
It comes back to performance. If a CEO has accomplished outstanding results, then in my view they've earned an outstanding paycheck. Despite the abuses, I would not like to see government interference here, trying to put a price on performance by regulating how much CEO's can be paid. That I think should be left up to the boards, the shareholders and the market. Not perfect I'll agree, but better than more government regulation.
Posted by Noel Guinane at July 15, 2005 4:13 AM
Neol - I also don't want Government to say what a company can and can't pay it's employees, apart from a minimum wage. But when a payment goes to this extraordinary level, even if it's to reward success, I feel there has to be some system of check & balance. When a payment passes a certain threshhold it ought - by law - go the shareholders to vote on. It's not a perfect solution but shouldn't the owners get the exceptional opportunity to review exceptional payments?
Posted by Mark JF at July 15, 2005 5:27 AM
Wring your hands all you want, but the bare facts are that you have absolutely no control over this situation unless you are a shareholder. This is actually a good thing because the payouts to retiring CEOs don't directly affect anyone except the shareholders. If the major shareholders won't fulfill their responsibilities of holding the corporate chiefs and the boards accountable, then they get what they deserve. The best way you can exert some personal control is to choose to either NOT own any stock of these companies--if enough make this choice there is no capital and thus no money for payouts. Or, you can purchase a major amount of class A stock so you have the ability to influence decisions.
Posted by Mike at July 15, 2005 6:13 AM
Mark I agree. I think the shareholders should get to approve exceptional payments to the exceptional CEO's running their businesses. After all, it's the shareholders who own the business. It's unfortunate that the major shareholders in big companies are institutional investment houses investing money on behalf of ordinary workers with their savings in pension funds, etc. Most people have no idea what companies their savings have been invested in. Institutional investors have a lot of power but from what I've seen, not a lot of business sense.
Posted by Noel Guinane at July 15, 2005 6:42 AM
It is very easy for the ordinary person with a 401K type plan to know where there money is invested dollar by dollar. Mutual funds are pretty transparent that way. I don't know about corporate pension plans (are there any left?) because I've never had one. I think I have the responsibility to make sure my money is where I want it and my personal plan allows me to put it in a lot of places. Enron-style 401s that limit the employees' options are becoming rare. If I can't be bothered to do that I get what I deserve, I guess.
Posted by Mike at July 15, 2005 7:20 AM
Noel, I am delighted that the Walton family and Bill Gates have made a ton. They changed the world. I also understand that there is a competitive market for terrific CEOs, just as there is for all-star quarterbacks. But I'm not sure what I'd do if I were on a comp committee. With jillions (think United Airlines) losing pensions and millions being "offshored" (from high-pay jobs), for instance, I think I'd try to find a way to make the whole damn thing look-smell a bit more equitable???
Posted by tom peters at July 15, 2005 7:57 AM
There was an interesting article in Fast Co (I think) talking about why CEOs are not tested for Sociopathic tendencies (i.e. psychopaths - unable to feel empathy with other people). We test the police etc before they are allowed to join why not CEOs?
The article went on to say that people like this, because they are not held back by feelings of guilt tend to perform very well in a cut throat business environment.
Now I am not saying that these individuals are psychopaths but it is an interesting line of thought
Personally I couldnâ€™t sleep at night with some of the things that these people do and then just walk away from. But I would much rather feel empathy than trade it in for that level of success.
Posted by PaulH at July 15, 2005 9:25 AM
We are all looking for explanations for the continuing dizzy rise in real estate values - my premise is, that part of it (and the reason why it may very well continue) is the extreme damage the Wall Street 'Professionals', as well as the continuing lack of oversight by the Regulatory Agencies, and the Boards of Directors of these companies themselves, have done to shareholders since the crash. Shareholder money is being paid to members of management who create a devaluation in stockholder's value. Why is that OK? Why is that an inducement to put one's trust in that company?
I represent women investors, most of who are high net worth women. The complaints I hear the most of are related to the issue of trust in management and boards of directors. It's a serious problem without an available solution.
Individual investors, and all their $hundreds of millions have left stocks and are now 'investing' in real estate - and will continue to do so. Why not? So many worthlittle stock certificates can at least hang on the walls of renovated and value-creating bathrooms. A much better prospect.
Posted by Brenda at July 15, 2005 12:20 PM
Tom, I'd like it to be more equitable too, though I'm wary of formulas to accomplish it - no more than 100 times what the janitor earns! These kinds of proposals make no sense to me inviting more government interference and regulation and I do not think this is good for business. In my view, it should be left up to the board and the shareholders to exercise their own judgment and a lot of that will depend, as it does in everything else we do in business, on what the market is doing; that free-wheeling old hag that underpins our society and is the bane of every regulator's existence as well as their sustenance.
Posted by Noel Guinane at July 15, 2005 1:45 PM
Given the competition for terrific CEOs (as Tom put it), wouldn't it be an obstacle if you plan to place an internal system (=shareholders) that might reject a settlement based on performance or non-performance for a CEO?
IMHO, I think Yes.
A. Thinking like a CEO, I might want everybody to be accountable too, from the Analyst to Partner. Where do you draw the line for settlements on non-performance?
B. Also, it would directly affect the company in selection of a 'terrific CEO' because ultimately this group of elite individuals have all the bargaining power. Say Morgan Stanley adopts what you say and UBS doesn't, the 'terrific CEO' would probably pick the one with the least risk (lesser severance -in millions - for under performance)!!
C. I think the CEOs of such big firms are damn too powerful and can demand such attrocious packages and there isn't a thing the shareholders can do about it. They would like to give the incoming CEO the benefit of doubt even if he 'clearly' underperforms like Purcell! Ultimately, it is a game of chance vis-a-vis performance.
Posted by fullymubbed at July 15, 2005 2:12 PM
My real beef is with the shareholders, primarily the big institutions, who don't exercise the power and responsibility that comes with their holdings. Shares are supposed to promote ownership, responsibility and stewardship of the business but today, that doesn't seem to work so well.
The big institutions simply don't act like owners. For them, it's simply an investment and it's made in order to profit their own funds, which is where they themselves are really being held accountable. If Company A fails, they'll move their money to Company B. As long as the results look good, they won't ask too many questions about how they're being made.
It's modern capitalism but it doesn't promote good company stewardship and that's why Government feels compelled to step in.
Posted by Mark JF at July 15, 2005 4:31 PM
Isn't that a problem everywhere?
The unfortunate terrorist attacks in London recently - CCTV cameras captured images of all the bombers BUT what now? We still end up with a moral argument that is not of use because everything else would end up in in the subjective 'religion vs state' theory!!
People who are familiar with the operation of restructured electricity markets will know how regulation is done there without government interference. That is the kind of regulation we need..not plain government intervention that might in turn lead to political lobbying!! I strongly favor governments staying out of businesses (HAYEK!). If there is a regulation body that makes money just on being ethical and rational - nothing like it.
Posted by fullymubbed at July 15, 2005 5:14 PM
Part of the problem is that Government didn't step in. They did nothing if you look at the bottom line. They, the SEC, NYSE, NASDAQ, and Congress did nothing during the boom and bust or after and are basically doing nothing now. What Wall Streeter has gone to jail? Ebbers is going and most probably the Enron crowd, but who else really. Billions of dollars were made by the Street and continue to do so ... that's when they were pumping up stock of worthless, no revenue companies during the net boom and now, they are pumping up themselves by inter-relational Board memberships and $100+ million "you're out of here" packages. Pleeeezzz! The wolves are all over the place and that's not going to change, one wit.
As for institutional investors, it's quite right they have a responsibility to exercise their ownership to stop outrageous, over the top actions by management, at the same time be the stewards of the individual investors' money ... but until Morgan Stanley, they, too have been unable to look at these problems at the same time as the growth of investment.
As a member of the investment community on both the buy and sell side for many years, I know that unless they are forced by law, they will not do it. Their answer to any questionable problem is, sell the stock. And don't look back. And company management knows it.
Posted by Brenda at July 15, 2005 6:07 PM
thanks Brenda for telling it like it is....everyone bellyaches about government regulations but as long as this type of greed goes on and the abuses pile up - government has no choice but to eventually step in - however, you are right - they sure didn't when everyone was raking the money in....There are so many cases like Purcell in the past, it boggles the mind. Men rewarded for destruction - look across America at all the small towns that have literally dried up - every time 5,000 or 10,000 people get laid off - whole communities die ...and then there is someone like Purcell who should have been measured by what he did for the company and instead got rewarded to the tune of 106 million plus for poor performance. The messages being sent to our future generations is laughable...The capitalist world hasn't exactly spawned moral leadership ... now we have other cultures just waiting to come in and gobble up their piece of the pie and they will work for peanuts for our jobs until they take over their own industries- China, India, Japan...America is changing right in front of our eyes ...but the rich get richer and the poor get poorer..I hope we will retain our ingenuity, passion, creativity to stay in the game...and I'm talking about middle America here...
Posted by suzanne g. at July 15, 2005 10:09 PM
We need more Sam Waltons!!! I just finished reading his book. What a guy! Again - we need more CEOs (as well as coporate officers) like him!
Posted by chuck at July 16, 2005 4:56 AM
Mark, I think there's been a huge increase in institutional shareholder activism over the past few years, particularly in the $1 trillion Hedge Funds industry aggressively trying to influence corporate managers to do as they see fit, but I do not think we can look to institutional shareholders to solve the problem any more than I think we can look to the government to solve it.
From the New York Times:
â€œAnd the hedge funds are having an effect. The trouble is, what's good for hedge funds might not be good for the company or its other shareholders, too.
Hedge funds -- which are barely regulated investment funds generally made up of money from wealthy individuals and institutions -- have been corporate activists before. But they are taking on a more pronounced role in corporate dealings this year, publicly meddling in everything from merger decisions to executive compensation.
B. Espen Eckbo, the founding director of the Center for Corporate Governance at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College (said) "They see that you can do something to change the shareholder value by picking on the governance side of a company.â€
Even Germany's Frankfurt stock exchange has come under attack from hedge funds. They are accused of being partly behind the ouster of the Deutsche Boerse AG's CEO earlier this month because he had tried to steer the exchange into acquiring the London Stock Exchange.
Now, the German government is considering tougher controls on hedge funds, and the country's financial regulator has said it may investigate whether major shareholders violated German securities law by conspiring to force out the exchange's CEO.
With hedge funds taking on this more activist role, it's reasonable to question their intentions when their ultimate goal is to tally big profits. Are they looking out for companies' long-term success to lift share values or is the maneuvering just to get a quick rise so they can lock in gains and bail out?â€
Posted by Noel Guinane at July 16, 2005 6:48 AM
Unfortunately, government and business have an adversarial relationship in the West. The East, for the most part, maintains a beneficial relationship between their governments and their businesses. Encouraging the government to interfere more than they already are in business is not going to help American companies compete against the Asians. That would give American businesses a distinct competitive disadvantage, as has already occurred under Sarbanes Oxley which has caused foreign companies, particularly Asian companies, to seek listings on the London Stock Exchange as a way to avoid the newly introduced bureaucratic burdens of an American listing.
From the International Herald Tribune:
â€œ(T)he most controversial part of Sarbanes-Oxley, known as Section 404 ... requires companies to assess the strength of their internal controls and to report any material weaknesses, and it requires auditors to opine whether those controls are adequate.
That has led to a sharp rise in spending on audits, and sparked complaints about the expense.
It has also made it harder for American securities markets to get foreign listings, and seems to have strengthened the competitive position of the London market, which has no such law, in gaining listings of Chinese companies.â€
Audits are definitely useful and necessary in order to judge the merit of a company, but I'd like to mention that an audit tells us what has happened. It does not tell us what will happen.
Posted by Noel Guinane at July 16, 2005 6:51 AM
I agree we need more Sam Waltons.
I was trying to compute the dollar per hour take that this payoff represents. It is beyond belief.
Then I read Tom's statement:
"I think I'd try to find a way to make the whole damn thing look-smell a bit more equitable???"
I could not agree more. But picturing the systemic changes that would have to occur - in actions and mindsets across the board (and Boards) - is mind-boggling. Tom, where would you start? Give us a sign!
Posted by Pam Brill at July 17, 2005 8:48 AM
Here is a start Pam
If people at the top stayed in touch with staff at the front line and listened rather than talked then big companies would not lose their way.
CEO's working at the sharp end for a week is a great investment.
Staff at the front line know all the answers all the time in my book.
Posted by Trevor Gay at July 17, 2005 6:12 PM
Figuring it all out, just makes it plain disguesting.
How about this:
On July 11, Morgan Stanley announced that Co-President (what ever that means, maybe he can't handle the job all by his little lonesome) Stephen Crawford resigned, having just gotten the job in late March. For his trouble, he will take home $32 million.
So, he is walking away with what he would have earned had he held the co-post for two years. Even by Wall Street standards, for being a co-whatever for a mere 15 WEEKS that amounts to $53,000 an HOUR, assuming he put in a 40-hour week.
Through a company spokesman, the deal was designed to "ensure management stability". However, the lead director on the Board, declined to comment.
N'uff said??? Let's face it, there is absolutely no possible lucid explanation for this action by the Board ... NONE!
Posted by Brenda at July 17, 2005 6:34 PM
All I know about SOX is that it makes my working life more difficult.
It has almost reached the point where if you want to get any stuff done you could tell people that it is a SOX compliance issue and they have to do it - no one would know......
What is interesting is that it replaces internal trust with legislation and auditing. Common sense and integrity go completely out of the window.
Posted by PaulH at July 18, 2005 2:50 AM
Brenda, I'm sorry, I wish I could agree with you. Corporate corruption is rampant and has been for a very long time, but the answer is not more government legislation. I could give you dozens of examples not unlike the example you have given from a book my company is acting as proxy to publish on behalf of a team of corporate surveillance experts. (One example is that the CEO of the company in question got bored one day and ordered his office to be redecorated by his personal interior designer. Bill? $12.3 million of the company's money).
The pay packets and, frankly, outright robbery of the company's coffers would be shocking enough, but it's the hands-off strategic approach followed up by gross mismanagement that I find the most disturbing since this directly affects employees, customers, suppliers, etc., and invites regulatory scrutiny.
Even so, I still think we need to leave it up to the board of directors and shareholders to work out rather than asking the government to intervene with more regulations and legislation as this will put a strangehold on business and punish everyone for the corrupt actions of a few, a few that will not be tolerated anyway when we all have to pay for their actions. We do not want at that time when we are in the middle of cleaning up the mess they have left behind to also bear the burden of even more government regulation.
Posted by Noel Guinane at July 18, 2005 5:11 AM
I agree about over regulation by the government. My concern is that the financial business in particular is laughing all the way to the proverbial bank. Very little regulation is as bad as none.
Look at what happened to the steroid congressional hearings. The Baseball self-regulators were embarassed into establishing a new set of standards for their "employee-baseball players". The transparancy of the hearings and bad publicity forced them into doing something that should have been done years ago when steroids became illegal.
Now, I realize that obscenely paid wallstreeters is not necessarily illegal, however, shareholders are having their company profits lowered because it is being used to pay off someone to go away.
I find it fascinating that the Government (Spitzer) is going after Messrs. Grasso and Langone for "over-payment" to Mr. Grasso and friendliness of the Board of Directors, when he, it can be argued, accomplished a great deal at the NYSE, both before and after Sept 11. Oh, and he showed up for work every day for years. Mr. Spitzer doesn't see anything questionable about the highly questionable amounts of cash handed over to people whose efforts caused a diminution of value to a public company. What is the difference between what Mr. Grasso and his fellow board members are accused of and, for example, the Board and CEO and Co-President of Morgan??? I for one, don't see any difference at all.
When will the book you are acting as a proxy for be published? Sounds extremely interesting.
Posted by Brenda at July 18, 2005 12:15 PM
Mid-October. We're having a little trouble with the authors - they're not at all happy with the editing. And as for Spritzer, he appears more than once in the transcripts.
Posted by Noel Guinane at July 18, 2005 1:33 PM
Sorry, I shouldn't have posted the above and regret any reference I may have drawn to Mr. Spitzer's office.
Posted by Noel Guinane at July 18, 2005 1:35 PM
I don't understand why these shareholders aren't offering a reasonable salary and the rest as a bonus. Make the CEO rich if he does well, I say. If he wrecks the company, let him walk.
Posted by Tim Almond at July 18, 2005 3:07 PM
Brenda, Noel, Tom, everyone...Form a company, attract investors, buy 1 to 100 shares of stock in companies who have had a history of rewarding poor performance. Put the facts together, go to shareholder meetings and expose the board and the good old boy club for what they are, then let the shareholders decide. Communicate the absurdity to the media. Then what will the rich and powerful do to stop a company like this from slowing down the gravy train? How many in government are involved? To bad our male ego overshadows our integrity and our choices to do the right thing. Enough, now I am just airing my point of view like everyone else. The look of this is just plain ugly and the smell is worse than a dung beetles breath.
Posted by Randy Reynolds at July 18, 2005 9:11 PM
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