Tag Archives | Brian Tayan

Governance Lessons from Wells Fargo

Governance Lessons From Wells Fargo

Governance Lessons From Wells Fargo

Tone at the Bottom: Governance Lessons from Wells Fargo

That was the advertised title for the program co-sponsored by the Rock Center for Corporate Governance and the Silicon Valley Directors Exchange. (Sign up to be on the SVDX mailing list.) After the program, I am still not convinced the real governance lesson from Wells Fargo (ticker: WFC) is not more about lack of oversight from the top, rather than the tone at the bottom.

It was another great panel of corporate governance, legal, and public relations experts for the deep dive into what went wrong. As usual, it was Chatham House Rule, so I’m mostly providing a little more background and some commentary on the presentations. I am sure others drew different conclusions than I did. The panel focused on issues ranging from public disclosure requirements, whistleblower policies and mechanics, compensation policies (including the board’s use of claw-back provisions), company policies regulating employee conduct, and the negative publicity suffered by the bank. Here were some of the advertised questions:

WFC panel

WFC panel

What happens when you have a well-meaning and talented board and a CEO who was regarded within the industry as one of the best managers with a stellar reputation? Was it inevitable that the CEO would be forced to step down by an outraged Congress and populist sentiment? What governance lessons from Wells Fargo are applicable to the non-banking industry, with special attention to Silicon Valley-based tech companies?

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Gadflies at the Gate: Why?

Deal Professor Envisions Corporate Gadfly

Starting with Corporations

Gadflies at the Gate: Why Do Individual Investors Sponsor Shareholder Resolutions? is the catchy title of a new paper (8/2006) by David F. Larcker and Brian Tayan. Its part of the Stanford Closer Look Series from the Corporate Governance Research Initiative. While I am happy to see a more objective view the role retail shareholder advocates play in corporate governance than the nonsense presented by Steven Davidoff Solomon, I’m not sure what Gadflies at the Gate really adds by raising questions without advancing answers. I suppose, like many academic papers, it is pointing out the need for further research, like a cobbler calling for more shoes. I advise further reading that is more action oriented. 

Gadflies at the Gate: Possible Misrepresentations

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The Handbook of Board Governance: Part 1

The Handbook of Board Governance

The Handbook of Board Governance advertised in Times Square

This is the second post in my review of  The Handbook of Board Governance: A Comprehensive Guide for Public, Private, and Not-for-Profit Board Member. see the introduction. I blabbed on for so long that I made my introduction a separate post. With the current post, I actually start reviewing Part 1 of the book. Yes, this will probably be my longest review ever… but it is for one of the biggest books ever.  Continue Reading →

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Directors&Boards: Digital Advisors & Knowledge Capture

Directors&BoardsDirectors&Boards is one of our “stakeholders.” No, that doesn’t mean they own part of us or that we own part of them and it doesn’t mean we always agree with each other. But they are included in our primary reference groups, those who contribute regularly to our “vocabulary of meaning.” The current edition begins to address two topics that need more attention. Continue Reading →

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Stanford Academics Focus on Wrong Problems at ISS

StanfordRockIn a recent Stanford “Closer Look” publication (How ISS Dictates Equity Plan Design), Ian D. Gow (Harvard but graduated from Stanford), David F. Larcker, Allan l. Mccall, and Brian Tayan argue ISS dictates pay equity plans. ‘Nonsense,’ was my first reaction. ISS policies generally reflect the will of its customers. The authors have a point but they miss the main problem. Their arguments begin in familiar territory. Continue Reading →

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Review: A Real Look at Real World Corporate Governance

Larcker-Tayan-real-world-corpgovThis book follows the theme of Corporate Governance Matters: A Closer Look at Organizational Choices and Their Consequences also by David Larcker and Brian Tayan. Larcker is the James Irvin Miller Professor of Accounting, Stanford Graduate School of Business. Brian Tayan is a member of the Corporate Governance Research Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. While Corporate Governance Matters (see my review)  focuses on debunking “best practices” in corporate governance, A Real Look at Real World Corporate Governance takes more of an abbreviated case study approach, delving into how several decisions were made by boards at specific companies. Continue Reading →

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Shareholder Lawsuits: Where is the Line between Legitimate and Frivolous?

Larcker, David F. and Tayan, Brian, Shareholder Lawsuits: Where is the Line between Legitimate and Frivolous? (November 27, 2012). Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University Closer Look Series: Topics, Issues and Controversies in Corporate Governance and Leadership No. CGRP- 29. Available on SSRN. Shareholders of public companies are not responsible for designing executive compensation packages. Still, a shareholder vote on compensation is required in two circumstances: when a company wants to establish an equity-based compensation plan, and annually as part of the Dodd Frank requirement shareholders have an advisory “say on pay.” In deciding how to vote, shareholders rely on information provided in the annual proxy. Continue Reading →
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New Pay Comparison Tool From Stanford

Aligning CEO pay with shareowner value is key for many. A new tool (at least new to me), the Compensation and Wealth Calculator, from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Corporate Governance Research Program, allows users to see how the compensation of CEOs and other NEOs, which they have already received over the years in the form of stock and stock options, aligns with share price. Continue Reading →

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Corporate Governance Matters but Not in the Way You Think

Corporate Governance Matters: A Closer Look at Organizational Choices and Their Consequences by David Larcker and Brian Tayan. Larcker is the James Irvin Miller Professor of Accounting, Stanford Graduate School of Business. Brian Tayan is a member of the Corporate Governance Research Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

The authors make a good case that corporate governance “suffers from considerable rhetoric.” Using available empirical evidence, they spend a considerable portion of the book debunking what are currently considered “best practices.” Fortunately, it doesn’t read like a diatribe, but rather a grounded framework that should be a valuable resource to anyone interested in this important subject.

After introductory chapters placing corporate governance in context, they devote substantial attention to the board: their duties and liabilities, selection, compensation, removal, structure. They also take a good hard look at CEOs: the labor market for CEOs, succession planning, compensation, and equity ownership. Other chapters cover organizational strategy, financial reporting and audits, market for control, investors, and ratings.

In 1994 the Council of Institutional Investors (CII) released Does Ownership Add Value?: A Collection of 100 Empirical Studies on the effectiveness of ownership structures and initiatives. Studies cited in Continue Reading →

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