The most creative ways shareholders complain about banker pay
Annual shareholder meeting season is finally over. While most U.S. banks offered minimal highlights – likely due to their habit of hosting meetings thousands of miles from home – European firms and their vocal investors made plenty of headlines. Here’s a roundup of some of the more priceless moments that you may have missed.
The award for most unruly shareholder’s meeting undoubtedly goes to Barclays. Furry over banker pay was the chief topic. While discussing the issue, Chairman David Walker likely learned a lesson: don’t ask angry mobs rhetorical questions.
"Do you imagine we want to pay anyone more in this bank more than we need to?" he asked. Before he even finished the question, the crowd answered with a resounding "yes!”
Share price was another issues "We're paying for Manchester United but we are getting Colchester United,” was the most creative outcry. "It's jam tomorrow for the investors but champagne today for the investment bankers,” was the more blunt version.
Shareholders even blasted the bank for its debit cards and the length of the line to get into the actual meeting.
Bank of America
One of only two of the largest U.S. banks to host shareholders at their headquarters, Bank of America was the likeliest firm to make headlines.
Chief Executive Brian Moynihan was grilled over a number of odd subjects, including the lack of handicapped parking spots at a single branch and the type of light bulbs he personally uses. He was also asked what steps the bank is taking to reduce carbon emissions.
After being chastised for his bonus, Moynihan watched two female shareholders begin screaming at each other, with one ending her diatribe by telling Moynihan that she loved him. “You and my mother,” he responded. “I’ve got two now.”
Of course she didn’t stop there. "You are a credit to the Irish," she told BofA’s top man. "Up the rebels and the Brits from Ireland. You are the finest CEO in America and the hope for America Up the stock to a million and I'll marry you in the morning!"
At least Bank of America was able to avoid what happened last year, when protestors dressed like zombies to object to the bank’s housing foreclosures.
JPMorgan hosted its meeting 2,000 miles away from home in Tampa, Florida, so nothing much happened. The lack of fireworks was a major disappointment for two local men who set up lawn chairs with the hope of enjoying the spectacle of protestors. None showed up (probably because it was hosted in Florida in May) but the men didn’t go home empty handed. The staff brought them turkey sandwiches, pasta and cookies, according to the Wall Street Journal. Not a bad day.
Three years earlier, when JPMorgan held the meeting in Ohio, 400 protesters mobbed the scene, resulting in multiple arrests.
The big takeaway from Deutsche Bank’s shareholder’s meeting was the German bank’s plan to raise capital (and dilute shareholder value). Much of the action took place outside the meeting, where protesters dressed as pigs and clown fish, according to Reuters. One was even riding around on a cardboard tank, objecting to…something.
Inside, Deutsche execs were literally booed like underperforming athletes. "When is this nightmare finally going to end?" one investor said in the meeting, referring to the 15% drop in the bank’s stock price over the last year.
Investment banker pay – which totaled €4.5bn – was yet another topic. "If that's still not enough for people, especially for the investment bankers ... then let them move on!” bellowed another shareholder.
Swiss executives were greeted with yet another sausage incident, this one stranger than the last. One Credit Suisse shareholder walked up to the stage, pulled a sausage from his pocket, showed it to the board, and then took a giant bite. No other commentary. This comes six years after a shareholder presented UBS chairman Marcel Ospel a string of sausages during his final annual meeting. Clearly some negative connotations with sausage over in Switzerland.