There is no substitute for a culture of integrity in organizations. Compliance alone with the law is not enough. History shows that those who make a practice of skating close to the edge always wind up going over the line. A higher bar of ethics performance is necessary. That bar needs to be set and monitored in the boardroom.  ~J. Richard Finlay writing in The Globe and Mail.

Sound governance is not some abstract ideal or utopian pipe dream. Nor does it occur by accident or through sudden outbreaks of altruism. It happens when leaders lead with integrity, when directors actually direct and when stakeholders demand the highest level of ethics and accountability.  ~ J. Richard Finlay in testimony before the Standing Committee on Banking, Commerce and the Economy, Senate of Canada.

The Finlay Centre for Corporate & Public Governance is the longest continuously cited voice on modern governance standards. Our work over the course of four decades helped to build the new paradigm of ethics and accountability by which many corporations and public institutions are judged today.

The Finlay Centre was founded by J. Richard Finlay, one of the world’s most prescient voices for sound boardroom practices, sanity in CEO pay and the ethical responsibilities of trusted leaders. He coined the term stakeholder capitalism in the 1980s.

We pioneered the attributes of environmental responsibility, social purposefulness and successful governance decades before the arrival of ESG. Today we are trying to rebuild the trust that many dubious ESG practices have shattered. 


We were the first to predict seismic boardroom flashpoints and downfalls and played key roles in regulatory milestones and reforms.

We’re working to advance the agenda of the new boardroom and public institution of today: diversity at the table; ethics that shine through a culture of integrity; the next chapter in stakeholder capitalism; and leadership that stands as an unrelenting champion for all stakeholders.

Our landmark work in creating what we called a culture of integrity and the ethical practices of trusted organizations has been praised, recognized and replicated around the world.


Our rich institutional memory, combined with a record of innovative thinking for tomorrow’s challenges, provide umatached resources to corporate and public sector players.

Trust is the asset that is unseen until it is shattered.  When crisis hits, we know a thing or two about how to rebuild trust— especially in turbulent times.

We’re still one of the world’s most recognized voices on CEO pay and the role of boards as compensation credibility gatekeepers. Somebody has to be.

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When bank CEOs tried to fall into line before an outraged Congressional committee, they were a little disingenuous about the true extent of the sacrifice they are bearing.

It is widely held that in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, an absence of meaningful transparency has been a major culprit. Too much in the financial sector was done in a less than open and clear fashion, and today uncertainty in respect of the true state of these institutions remains a chief cause of uneasiness in the market. This is a time when candor in the banking industry is needed as never before.

One might have thought that the CEOs of these institutions would have realized that and been prepared to demonstrate such a commitment, especially when their every word and action was being scrutinized by the world press and some of America’s top lawmakers. But when the CEOs of Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, State Street, and Wells Fargo testified before the House Financial Services Committee this week, they were less than forthcoming on an issue that has become a flashpoint in the current crisis: CEO compensation.

True, all the CEOs who appeared before the committee boasted that they have not received, or will not accept, a bonus for 2008.They know that the public is expecting some level of sacrifice, given the dire state so many families are in today.But when the CEOs tried to fall into line, they were a little disingenuous about the true extent of the sacrifice they are bearing.

Here is what some of them told the committee last week about their 2008 compensation. Below, you will find what they were paid for the previous two years (according to Forbes), when the missteps in the subprime and related investment creations were being made.

Ronald E. Logue, CEO, State Street

2008 salary: $1.0 Million

2008 bonus: 0

Total compensation for previous 2 years:  $39.33 Million

John J. Mack, CEO Morgan Stanley

2008 salary: $800,000

2008 bonus: 0

Total compensation for previous 2 years:  $80 Million

Lloyd C. Blankfein, CEO, Goldman Sachs

2008 salary:            $600,000

2008 bonus:             0

Total compensation for previous 2 years: $110.77 Million

Kenneth D. Lewis, CEO, Bank of America

2008 salary:            $1.5 Million

2008 bonus:              0

Total compensation for previous 2 years:  $124.64 Million

Vikram Pandit, CEO, Citigroup

2008 salary:             $1.0 M

2008 bonus:              0

His share from the hedge fund bought by Citigroup in 2007, as part of the deal where he became CEO of the bank: $165.2 M.

(After flat performance and hefty write-downs, the underperforming fund was dissolved some six months later, leaving many to wonder if it was a foreshadowing of Pandit’s future at Citigroup as well.)

These CEOs are not unlike their counterparts in dozens of other banks and financial institutions which have received significant injections of U.S. taxpayer funds.They benefited handsomely from the overheated, overleveraged, risk-blind spree of recent years.The ones who appeared before the American public earlier this week should have done more than agree to coast on the princely sums they have stashed away.The public was not entirely oblivious to what these titans pulled out of the market at a time when they, and the PR machinery they employed, constantly assured the world that outsized CEO pay was a just reward for past success and a necessary incentive for future performance.

The heads of these banks were less than candid about the picture of restraint and sacrifice they were attempting to portray at a time when exactly the opposite is needed to restore confidence in Wall Street’s leadership and that of its major banks. They are our choice for the Outrage of the Week.