Consultant relations professionals are resisting calls to make their compensation more long term to align it with the duration of their clients’ investments, recruiters say, following recent European proposals along those lines that would have affected U.S. managers with E.U. arms.
In July, the European Union rejected legislation that would have capped asset managers’ bonuses and forced compensation to be deferred over longer periods of time. The proposed restrictions came on the coattails of a successful law imposing similar restrictions on bankers…..
Alan Johnson, managing director at compensation-consulting firm Johnson Associates, says he works with clients who would like to switch their consultant relations staff over to a commission structure.
But Johnson discourages that idea, saying that consultant relations professionals should be encouraged to take their time developing relationships and meeting the needs of the consultants, not the other way around. “If you motivate people to push what’s hot at the moment, you’re not going to have anything in the future,” says Johnson. “It’s a long term relationship, and the impact [consultant relations] have is indirect.”
Just as sales professionals have not responded well to attempts to switch their compensation to a bonus structure, as reported, consultant relations professionals do not usually like a commission structure. “It takes years to foster relationships,” says Johnson. Paying consultant relations a more black-and-white commission basis could make it difficult for them to earn commission in the earlier years of their career, as well as in lean sales periods.
While deferred commission payments may work for sales people in order to encourage better retention, it’s not a necessary hook for consultant relations staff, according to Johnson. Consultant relations professionals generally have better retention as their jobs are seen as less stressful and more long-term given that they involve developing relationships in slow moving bureaucracies. Nevertheless, not everything about a consultant relations pro’s duties are laid back. “[Consultant relations] a hard job in an industry where people want to get things done quickly,” he says.
The discrepancies are the latest wrinkle in the final writing of the Volcker rule, which will force banks to scale back bets they make using their own capital. Banks know the broad outlines of the rule, but regulators may not issue a final version until later this year, leaving banks little time as they scramble to comply by July 2014.
The employee-participation provision—designed to avoid a situation where banks, in the event of a crisis, rush to rescue heavily employee-invested funds, said a person involved in the rule-making process—is causing particular consternation….
Alan Johnson, managing director of New York-based compensation-consulting firm Johnson Associates, said he has worked with banking clients frustrated with the lack of guidance on the employee-participation portion of the rule. “This is just one more thing where the rules weren’t quite clear,” he said. “The skeptics said it would take a long time for the rules to come out, and I guess they were right.”
The fortunes of large financial services companies have improved dramatically from the dark days of the recession, but paychecks for the leaders of those companies still aren’t what they used to be.
Compensation at broker-dealers and asset-management firms generally has increased along with the recovering financial markets during the past two years, but it remains substantially below pre-crisis levels, consultants said….
“There’s usually a premium to work on Wall Street, but it’s shrunk,” said Alan Johnson, managing director of compensation consultant Johnson Associates Inc.
He characterized last year as “so-so” overall for financial services executives and suggested that the fallout from the financial crisis continues to suppress executive-pay levels.
“Some people still believe that executives in this industry should make very little,” Mr. Johnson said
Many industry professionals are optimistic that their 2013 compensation will be higher than last year’s pay.
That is according to the results of an Ignites poll that also found nearly 40% of participants predict they will earn about the same amount this year as last year.
Roughly 36%, or 156 voters, expect their total 2013 pay to be slightly higher than last year’s earnings, while 10%, or 46 voters, believe it will be much higher……
The poll results “are consistent with the general perception that the industry is continuing to improve, but perhaps not all boats are rising, or rising at the same rate,” says Francine McKenzie, a managing director at compensation consulting firm Johnson Associates. McKenzie’s firm estimates incentive pay increases of 10% to 15% in 2013 for industry professionals.
Wall Street bonuses and staff levels are expected to rise this year as trading and deal-making activity pick up, according to a closely watched report released on Friday by a compensation consulting firm.
Johnson Associates predicts that senior bank executives will receive bonus increases of 5 percent to 15 percent, with investment bankers getting the biggest potential bonus increases of up to 20 percent.
The firm, headed by long-time industry pay consultant Alan Johnson, cited “signs of economic recovery in the United States and positive market momentum” in its report, but also noted that new regulations and a slowdown in Europe may weigh on bank profits and employee compensation.
Corporate governance experts believe Wal-Mart Stores’ recent decision to tie executive bonuses to compliance objectives could be a bellwether for how other large, multinational companies hold management accountable should their firms run afoul of certain regulations.
The retail giant has undergone an overhaul of its compliance operations following a federal investigation into bribery allegations in Mexico last year, and has recently added provisions to its executive incentive compensation program that will tie bonus payments to compliance objectives, according to a proxy statement released on April 22, 2013….
Compliance-based objectives have already been adopted by heavily regulated industries such as financial services and pharmaceuticals, but are rarely seen in other American industries, says Alan Johnson, a financial services comp expert and managing director of Johnson Associates.
Johnson says that it could be difficult to be very specific and objective toward exact compliance standards and goals, as many of the regulation and compliance issues could be seen as politically motivated.
Lots of companies talk about making compliance and ethics a priority. Walmart is putting its money where its mouth is.
The retail giant announced last month that it will soon begin basing a portion of compensation for top executives, including CEO Michael Duke, on the company’s ability to meet compliance goals. If top executives don’t meet compliance objectives, they risk having their annual bonuses reduced….
By adopting incentives to meet compliance goals, rather than penalties for compliance infractions, Walmart is ahead of the curve. “Most executive compensation or bonus plans will have subjective elements,” says Alan Johnson, managing director of Johnson Associates, an executive pay consulting firm based in New York City. “There will be wording in there that you have to comply with laws and regulations, but it has always been more about after the fact—after there is a problem—instead of upfront and proactive. Compliance should be holistic, not just following the rules, but going beyond the rules and avoiding problems.”
What’s the difference between a media mogul and a chief executive elsewhere in the business world? About $10 million in compensation, give or take.
Leaders in other industries may be well paid, but as the accompanying chart shows, they earn far less than their media counterparts.
Consider: the top 20 companies in the United States ranked by market capitalization include no media companies. But according to figures assembled for The New York Times by Equilar, which compiles data on executive compensation, media companies employ seven of the top 20 highest paid chief executives.
As investment consultants and managers launch outsourced CIO (OCIO) services to meet institutions’ demands, consultant relations professionals who woo consultants on behalf of managers have been left with a very different job description.
Consultant relations professionals, who once had the sole objective of servicing investment consultants in the hopes of winning business from their institutional clients, now find themselves in a role more similar to that of an institutional sales professional, either selling their own OCIO services to consultants or hoping to land a spot on an investment consulting firm’s OCIO platform….
Compensation expert Alan Johnson, managing director of Johnson Associates, says that complications and additional responsibilities brought on by the surge in OCIO demand has actually frustrated some consultant relations professionals who feel they aren’t being compensated for the increased assets they’re bringing to their firms as a result of OCIO sales. But if they can find a way of tracking their contribution, he says there may be more room for discussion over their future pay packages – as well as their recognition at their firms.
“Many consultant relations professionals would like a commission but in that [OCIO] world it’s harder to do,” Johnson says. “You work for a very long time to get results and when results do come, it’s hard to quantify they are do. It’s more of a base [salary] and bonus structure. If that really takes hold and brings in a lot of revenue, it will be easier to track. It will lead to more of a commission kind of approach.”
RELAX. Sit back. And forget, for a moment, those pesky shareholders and bothersome boards, the regulations, the investigations and all the other headaches of being a chief executive today.
Dodd-Frank rules? Securities and Exchange Commission lawyers? Leave them behind. And let yourself sink into the buttery leather seat of your corporate jet as it soars through the clouds.
That’s what Steve Wynn did. As chief executive of Wynn Resorts, he sat back and enjoyed more than a million dollars’ worth of personal travel last year on his company’s private jet.