Lloyd Blankfein is making the case to shareholders that Goldman Sachs's bonus policy is fair. Since October, the firm's chairman and other top brass have met with investors to argue its strong performance justifies hefty payouts. The campaign, in the words of The Wall Street Journal, is "an effort to ward off an investor backlash over its record compensation pool."
Says the Journal:
During these meetings, Goldman also has been asking investors how they make voting decisions on shareholder proposals, according to people who heard the conversations. Some investors say the questions suggest Goldman is developing a strategy to navigate any shareholder proposals aimed at reining in pay. Shareholders likely will vote on the proposals this spring.
Goldman hasn't shown any signs it intends to back down from its plans to reward employees with record compensation this year - $717,000 per employee, consultant and temp, nearly twice last year's $364,000. But the firm's keenly aware of how its perceived by the general public. Not long ago, it instructed its staff to avoid appearing ostentatious and went so far as to ban even private holiday parties at workers' homes.
Robert Walker, vice president for sustainability at Northwest & Ethical Investments LP of Canada, told the Journal that, "Goldman Sachs is getting a lot of heat in the press over compensation, and this may be the year where the stars align for real change."