Financial Regulatory Forum

JPMorgan repeats basic mistakes managing traders, say officials

By Rachel Wolcott

LONDON/NEW YORK, May 15 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – JPMorgan’s Chief Investment Office, which last week was responsible for more than $2 billion in mark-to-market losses, appears to have made some classic mistakes in the risk management of trading desks and the monitoring of traders. Although the CIO losses have not been blamed on a rogue trader, they do have much in common with the incidents at UBS and Société Générale, where single traders lost billions seemingly overnight.  (more…)

Corporate governance watch: vote failures signal investor dissatisfaction with executive pay

By Alex Lee

NEW YORK, May 10 (Business Law Currents) – Stockholders are making their discontent heard through say-on-pay votes that have not been flattering to executives. So far this year, multiple companies have outright failed these votes and even more have not been able to reach the 70 percent approval threshold. In light of Institutional Shareholder Services’ (ISS) 2012 Corporate Governance Policy Updates, evaluations of company pay policies are in line for even greater scrutiny.

According to ISS, a majority vote that does not reach at least a 70 percent approval rate is considered as a failure. A simple majority alone is no longer deemed a mandate of a board’s policies, and any approval level below 70 percent is now perceived as a serious exhibition of shareholder dissatisfaction. (more…)

Negligence charges gain clout in SEC enforcement arsenal

By Julie DiMauro

BOSTON/NEW YORK, May 9 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Financial services firms may face more negligence cases brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, reflecting a greater willingness by the commission to base charges on negligence findings, industry professionals were told at a Thomson Reuters forum.

“What we are seeing is a willingness to actively go out and charge negligence,” Ian Roffman, a partner at Nutter, McClennen & Fish LLP, told compliance officers and others in a panel discussion on SEC enforcement hosted by the Thomson Reuters Governance, Compliance and Risk division.  (more…)

SEC examiners enter U.S. boardrooms to gauge compliance

By Nick Paraskeva

NEW YORK, April 4 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission plans to reach into the boardroom to assess a financial firm’s culture of compliance, a senior commission official told a conference in New York.

The agency, departing from traditional practice to take a page from bank regulators, intends to have direct discussions with the firm’s board about the regulatory issues board members and senior management team are paying attention to, and how they are navigating them. (more…)

Corporate governance: succession planning through crises and emergency transitions

By Alex Lee

NEW YORK, March 23 (Business Law Currents) – In an environment of increased corporate governance scrutiny, succession planning through both departures and crises is a focal point for shareholder interests and transparency-related issues. Companies historically kept succession plans close to their vests, but recent succession episodes at Apple Inc., Bank of America Corpand Hewlett-Packard have highlighted the multitude of issues that shareholders have with respect to the concern shown by boards on such a significant matter.

In October 2009, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reversed its long-held position whereby the exclusion of shareholder requests for disclosure of succession plans from proxy statements was allowed. The SEC clearly recognized that succession planning-related matters are within the remit of shareholder proposals, and that boards must significantly address the issues as leadership voids or uncertainty could adversely affect companies. (more…)

Corporate governance: boardrooms fret over corporate espionage and federal guidance regimes

By Alex Lee

(Business Law Currents) – Dodd-Frank related governance issues such as say-on-pay and proxy access have been well known focal points for boardrooms during the 2012 proxy and annual meeting season, but another issue has topped headlines and is of increasing concern to boardrooms: business intelligence gathering activities. Faced with shareholder oversight, the risks posed by private intelligence gathering firms and governmental regulation in this area, companies must ensure that they abide by accepted best practices, the highest ethical standards and standards for compliance with laws.

Shareholders and governing bodies have enhanced scrutiny of corporate governance, with scandals such as MF Global highlighting abuses of corporate power and potential criminal activities by company officers. Effective corporate governance principles dictate that those who conduct unethical or, worse, illegal activities on behalf of a company must be brought to heel. (more…)

Evidence, access aid job security when compliance staff raise a red flag

By Emmanuel Olaoye

NEW YORK, Feb. 9 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Two vivid reminders of the job-security perils faced by compliance officers and others who sound alarms at company practices were provided last week by a congressional hearing into the MF Global bankruptcy and a federal appeals court ruling on whistleblower law.

The risks may be part of the job, but skillful management of internal policies and wise self-protection can help avoid career-threatening retaliation, experts said. (more…)

Corporate boards seek a few good generals- directors’ group recruits military

By Stuart Gittleman

NEW YORK, Jan. 12 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) — The National Association of Corporate Directors has launched a program to recruit generals and admirals for membership on boards of directors, with the aim of advancing standards of professionalism and increasing diversity of perspective, the group said Thursday.

The first program will be held Tuesday, February 28 through Thursday, March 1 in Washington, DC. Interested veteran and active-duty military flag and general officers can request an invitation and review the agenda, speakers and program details by clicking here.

(more…)

Advice for Chelsea Clinton: How to be a good board member

By Lucy P. Marcus
The views expressed are her own.

The high profile appointment of Chelsea Clinton to the board of IAC/InterActiveCorp comes at a time when the individual and collective performance of board directors is being scrutinized more thoroughly and more publicly than ever before. A good board can be rocket fuel or it can be rocks in an organization’s pockets. But what does a  new board member need to be active, engaged, and dynamic?

The principles are the same regardless of whether this is somebody’s first or tenth appointment, and their significance does not diminish with every new appointment either. Every boardroom has its own personality, its own cadence, and its own means of getting things done, and there is no way of knowing for sure how that works till you are around the table. But every board deserves the best from each of its members—long-serving and new alike.

The sooner new board directors are comfortable and familiar with the landscape in which their organization operates, with the challenges it confronts, the sooner they can make a meaningful contribution to the organization and help it deal with its current challenges as well as future-proof it.

Two hats or one: revisiting the role of board chair in Canada

By John Mackie

TORONTO, Aug. 23 (Business Law Currents) For institutions, regulators and investors, executives who wear two hats, such as CEO and chairman, are in an inherent conflict of interest. The situation is complicated further when roles are shared, such as in cases of co-chairs or co-CEOs.

One company that has been the center of this ongoing debate in Canada is Waterloo-based Research in Motion (RIM). In RIM’s case, the complexity is taken to an extreme, with co-CEOs who are also co-chairs. (more…)

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