Regulators OK plan to police banks' pay policies

Bankers will not be rewarded for taking big risks under new rules

Published June 21, 2010 7:30PM (EDT)

Federal regulators on Monday adopted a plan to ensure that banks' pay policies don't encourage employees to take reckless gambles like those that contributed to the recent financial crisis.

The plan, originally proposed by the Federal Reserve last year, was also endorsed by other key banking regulators -- the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision.

Many banks' practices have been found deficient in curbing risk-taking based on an in-depth analysis by regulators, the Fed said. It has directed banks -- which weren't identified -- to take steps to fix their policies.

"Many large banking organizations have already implemented some changes in their incentive compensation policies, but more work clearly needs to be done," said Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo, the central bank's point person on the matter.

The regulators won't actually set compensation. Instead, they would review -- and could veto -- pay policies that could cause too much risk-taking by executives, traders or loan officers.

As part of that process, the regulators will be conducting additional reviews of banks' compensation practices and making sure that they follow up on deficiencies.

Many banks need better ways to identify which employees can expose the entire institution to risk, the Fed said. Many banks' policies aren't fully capturing the risks involved and not applying risk-curbing measures to enough employees. Many banks also don't have sufficient ways to evaluate whether their compensation practices are successful in curbing risks.

By Jeannine Aversa

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