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商业 - 金融

华尔街高管薪酬:高,是有道理的!

Martin Armstrong 2015年03月24日

英国保诚集团CEO谭天忠离职的消息一经传开,该公司市值旋即缩水近20亿美元,而其新东家瑞士信贷的股价则飙涨7%。与上述数字相比,谭天忠高达1300万美元的薪酬似乎不算什么。在人才竞争白热化的今天,人们应该更加关注华尔街金融高管对公司和股东所做的贡献,而不是孤立地揪住他们的薪酬不放。

    瑞士信贷新CEO谭天忠

    银行家的薪酬一直受到满怀妒意的关注。如果你想在引文词典中找到对银行家价值的正面评价,恐怕穷尽一生也找不到。

    自从全球金融危机在2008年爆发以来,这种关注和抱怨就不断加剧。随着大部分经济体正在逐渐走出衰退,这场争论也变得更加激烈:一些人声称,所谓的薪酬通胀预示着华尔街的鲁莽行为再次抬头,而正是这种轻率之举导致房地产市场在2008年轰然塌陷,它还说明监管不力——大部分人都认为严格监管是一件“好事”。

    我认为,无论是过去,还是现在,银行家的薪酬一直都很合理。大多数批评者的衡量标准并不正确,或者说他们根本就没有审视衡量标准。比如,英国保诚集团首席执行官谭天忠上周二离职的消息,导致该公司市值缩水了接近20亿美元。为什么?因为许多人认为谭天忠在这个位置上做得十分出色,保诚集团的股价缩水恰好证明了他的价值。而谭天忠离职后加入瑞士信贷的消息一经披露,该公司的股价即刻上涨了7%。谭天忠的薪酬待遇并未公布,不过据说他前任的薪酬为9100万美元。相比之下,谭天忠2013年在保诚集团的薪酬仅为1300万美元。我们可以推断,对于保诚集团而言,由于难以提供足以媲美瑞士信贷有可能开出的薪酬,任何想要挽留他的想法都会变得难以启齿。

    这里还有另外一个因素。一位备受尊敬的首席执行官的酬劳,总是与股价表现挂钩的。为一家市场估值偏低,或是一家CEO认为自己能做出重大贡献的企业工作,也是很有诱惑力的,这一点不容忽视。在谭天忠的案例中,他或许认为自己在保诚集团的使命已经完成。非常令人好奇的是,宣布跳槽前,瑞士信贷是否为他开出了与股价挂钩的薪酬基准。

    从根本上来说,市场是由信仰和认知所决定的。想想这个简单的等式:“认知-现实=企业价值。”如果市场对公司的估值一下子降低了20亿美元,那么高管的“价值”显然是其薪酬的好多倍。在谭天忠的案例中,股价的下跌幅度甚至是他薪酬的15倍。对持有股票的股东来说,首席执行官突然变得极具价值。

    我们很容易发现是什么促成了嫉妒和批评的声音。从外行的角度看,数百万美元的薪酬总是显得过多。而找个令人感动的参照物(人们经常以护士、救火队员或警官的薪水作为比较对象)非常容易。但这种第一印象的“分析”没有考虑到任何有意义的参照环境。为了带领公司进军新市场,首席执行官已经采取了什么措施?分析家如何评价公司的股票?在他们的任职期内,股价表现如何?在他们上任前,股价又表现如何?

    在我的公司,我们十分关注个人的投资回报率,并在公司资产负债表上单列出高管的影响力,以评价他或她是否适合从事目前的工作。这是一种有用且有益的方式,可以消除情绪因素,用十分务实的方式来评估一个人的价值。

    银行、基金会和其他金融机构的首席执行官要面对来自具备竞争力的同事、董事会、股东和媒体的强大压力。在一位极其专业的首席执行官的带领下,一家实力强劲的金融部门能够影响广泛的经济活动、带动投资、推动税收收入,进而促进公共部门投资。

    在这场关于高管酬劳的大辩论中,另一个被忽略的因素是市场就是市场。在过去,高管招聘的范围通常局限在一国之内。而如今,各大公司都在全球各地物色人才。就像主要金融市场一样,寻找和安置人才也在承受着巨大的竞争压力。一切事物、一切人都是有价的——在这样一个“没有钱是万万不能的”世界上,任何试图抑制高管财富的做法都是行不通的。如果我们给薪酬设置上限,或采取其他方式对高管薪酬加以限制,那就会给我们自己的金融机构带来危险,那些全球领先的金融机构,将会由二流甚至三流的高管来掌舵,这会衍生许多风险,进而为整个经济带来严重后果。

    在我看来,我们最好还是撤回镜头,从更广的范围看看这些金融高管对他们公司的贡献,而不是孤立地揪住他们的薪酬不放。

    高管离职导致股价降低的案例还有许多。约翰•邦德先生在2006年6月离开了汇丰银行控股公司,自那以后,该公司在亚洲经济繁荣的情况下,股价依旧下跌了50%,在一次又一次危机中艰难前行。而在华尔街和伦敦以外,也有其他的例子。英国顶级零售商特易购自从德高望重的特里•利亚离职后,也遭遇了股价跳水。安吉拉•阿伦茨在2014年离开了博柏利,导致该公司市值猛跌8.05亿美元。哈利特•格林在2014年离开了航空公司托马斯•库克,也致使公司市值缩水了5.41亿美元。

    因此要给招聘人员、监管人员、股东和评论员提个醒:“减少高管薪酬支出,并不意味着你的收益就会多一点。”(财富中文网)

    作者马丁•阿姆斯特朗是金融服务高管研究公司Armstrong International的董事长。他咨询的范围包括公司文化和人才问题,也是许多全球顶级首席执行官和政治家的职业生涯顾问。

    译者:严匡正

    审校:任文科

    Bankers’ compensation have always been the subject of envious scrutiny. Search the Dictionary of Quotations for something positive on the value of bankers and you’ll probably search forever.

    This scrutiny and caterwauling has, if anything, intensified since the global financial crisis started in 2008. As most economies emerge from recession, the debate is compounded by the assertion that so-called inflated pay packages are symptomatic of a return to the recklessness that caused the 2008 housing market crash in the first place and a lack of regulatory rigor, which most would contend would be a ‘good thing.’

    My argument is that bankers are fairly rewarded and always have been. The critics are mostly looking at the wrong metrics – or not looking at metrics at all. On Tuesday, for instance, the CEO of Prudential Insurance left the business, wiping nearly $2 billion off the share price. Why? TidjaneThiam is perceived by many to have done an outstanding job at the helm, and the fall in the value of Prudential is testament to the regard in which he is held. Thiam has left Prudential for Credit Suisse , whose share price soared 7% in the wake of the announcement. Thiam’s compensation package has not yet been disclosed, but his predecessor’s package was reportedly $91 million. By comparison, Thiam’s package at Prudential was $13 million in 2013. We can assume that any thoughts that Prudential had of talking him round were hampered by the difficulty they would face in attempting to match (and disclosing) what Credit Suisse must have offered.

    There is another factor at play here. A highly regarded CEO has his or her remuneration linked to share price performance. The allure of working for a business that the markets are undervaluing – or one where the CEO believes a significant contribution can be made – cannot be ignored. In Thiam’s case, he might well have calculated that his work at Prudential had been done. It would be intriguing to learn whether the benchmark for share price-based remuneration was set prior to the announcement.

    Markets, fundamentally, are all about faith and perceptions. Consider this simple equation: ‘Perception minus reality equals enterprise value.’ If the market discounts the value of the business by $2 billion, clearly the chief executives’ ‘value’ is a huge multiple of his pay package. In Thiam’s case, the share price fall was a 15 time multiple of his package. Suddenly, to shareholders that hold his stock, he or she starts to look like outstanding value for money.

    It is easy to see what fuels the voices of envy and criticism. From a layperson’s perspective a multi-million dollar package is always going to look excessive. Finding an emotive comparator (the equivalent number of nurses, firemen or police officers is an established trope) is easy to do. But what this first flush ‘analysis’ misses is any useful context. What has he or she done to lead the business into new markets? How do analysts rate the stock? How has the share price performed under his or her tenure? How did it perform prior to his or her arrival?

    In my business, we look closely at an individual’s return on investment, separating out the impact of an executive from the corporate balance sheet to assess his or her appropriateness for a role. It is a useful and salutary exercise, stripping away the emotion and assessing an individual in a very pragmatic way.

    Chief executives of banks, funds and other financial institutions are under intense pressure from their competitive peers, their Boards, their shareholders and the media. A strong financial sector, led by an expert CEO, creates ripples in the wider economy, enabling investment, driving taxation receipts that enable public sector investment and more.

    The other missing component in the debate about executive remuneration is that markets are markets. It used to be that most recruitment for executive roles took place within borders. Headhunting now takes place on a global savannah. Finding and placing talent is subject to the same intense competitive pressures that pulsate through the major markets. Everything and everyone has a price – and any containment strategy related to executive wealth is an unhelpful intrusion by God into the world of Mammon. If we allow caps or other restrictive mechanisms to intrude too sharply into the subject of executive pay, we run the risk that our financial institutions, the boiler rooms of many of the world’s leading economies, will be run by second or third-division saints with all the incumbent risk that that creates – and with all the wider consequences for the economy as a whole.

    Better, in my view, to draw back the lens and look at the contribution of financial executives to their businesses more widely than remain fixated on the ambit of their pay in isolation.

    There are many other examples of post-departure share price decline. Sir John Bonds exited HSBC holdings in June 2006 and since then the share price has declined 50%, despite an Asian boom and has limped from crisis to crisis. Outside Wall Street and London, there are other examples. Tesco, the UK’s leading retailer, has seen its share price plummet since the departure of the highly-regarded Terry Leahy. Angela Ahrendts left Burberry in 2014, wiping $805 million off Burberry’s value. Harriet Green left Thomas Cook in 2014, the impact of which knocked $541 million off the firm’s value.

    A cautionary note to recruiters, regulators, shareholders and commentators: ‘less does not equal more.’

    Martin Armstrong is Chairman of Armstrong International, a financial services executive search firm. He advises corporations on cultural and talent-related issues and is career advisor to many leading CEOs and politicians.

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