That the shareholders of Goldman Sachs (the “Company”) urge the Board of Directors to adopt a policy stating that upon contract renewal or in future contracts, the Named Executive Officers (“NEOs”) will be required to retain 75% of the shares acquired through the Company’s compensation plans, excluding tax-deferred retirement plans, for at least three years from the termination of their employment (through retirement or otherwise), and to report to shareholders regarding the adoption of this policy before the Company’s 2012 annual meeting. To the extent that our company’s existing policies do not do so, the new policy should also establish, for newly instituted or renewed contracts, additional meaningful links between NEO compensation rewards and our company’s long-term performance, rather than to performance of the stock market as a whole.
Equity-based compensation is an important component of the senior executive compensation program at our Company. Although during the recent financial crisis, stock awards of executive officers were temporarily halted, otherwise in recent years the compensation of named executive officers has been heavily weighted towards stock options.
Requiring senior executives to hold a significant portion of the shares acquired through the Company’s compensation plans for at least three years after their termination of employment would tie their economic interests to the longer-term success of the Company. It would also motivate them to focus on the Company’s long-term business objectives and better align their interests with that of shareholders. The absence of such a requirement may enable these executives to unduly focus their decisions and actions towards generating short-term financial results at the expense of the Company’s long-term success. The current financial crisis has made it imperative for companies to reconsider and reshape executive compensation policies and practices to discourage excessive risk-taking and promote long-term, sustainable value creation.
Several well-regarded business organizations support “hold past retirement” policies. The Aspen Principles, endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and the Council of Institutional Investors, recommend that “senior executives hold a significant portion of their equity-based compensation for a period beyond their tenure.”
Further, a 2002 report by The Conference Board endorsed a holding requirement, stating that the long-term focus promoted thereby “may help prevent companies from artificially propping up stock prices over the short-term to cash out options and making other potentially negative short-term decisions.”
A post-employment retention requirement that is linked to the amount of compensation and the total shares issued to NEOs will ensure they share in both the upside and downside risk of their actions taken while at the Company. We urge shareholders to vote for this proposal.