Goldman Sachs (GS) has started to meet with its largest shareholders to defend the millions, and in some cases tens of millions, that it pays its management and star bankers.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Goldman "has begun meeting with major investors in an effort to ward off an investor backlash over its record compensation pool." Some shareholders are still pressing for a say on Goldman pay packages.
The pressure from investors is curious. Goldman's stock fell less than almost any other U.S.-based financial firm during the credit crisis and recovered more rapidly. The company's shares have risen over 100% so far this year, and are up more than that since the March sell-off that hammered all financial stocks. In other words, Goldman shareholder should consider themselves lucky.
Wall Street has not been a perfect meritocracy, but Goldman has been close to one. Its executives are typically paid higher than those of its rivals, but its earnings are better, which has probably been the reason for the extraordinary performance of its shares.
Institutional investors may want a role in compensation decisions at large companies in which they hold shares, but they are wasting their time at Goldman. The firm has done nothing other than perform.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/.7 Wall St.