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Disclosure of CEO bonus plans: A study of twenty leading EU banking companies
Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School, JIBS, Business Administration.
Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School, JIBS, Business Administration.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The CEO bonus of banking companies has become a hot media topic around the world accelerated by the recent financial crisis of 2007-2008 where the excessive pay and risk-taking in the banking sector were recognized. This has raised public concerns around executive remuneration and the transparency of the companies. According to the regulations, the bonus of the CEO is indexed to the firm´s performance. However, the compensation of many CEO’s has been paid out during the financial crisis although the firms have lost money. This has consequently led to rigorous regulations of the financial institutions with the attempt to ensure long-term focus and consider outstanding risk through variable remuneration payments.


Although the remuneration, and specifically annual bonus, has caught a lot of attention by the public and the media, it has been mostly overlooked by regulatory authorities and academics up until today. This research represents the first attempt to examine the disclosure and transparency of CEO annual bonus plans of twenty leading EU banks through the employment of in-depth and descriptive approach.. The purpose of this study is to explore the issue of CEO annual bonus plan with respect to the disclosure of the information provided in the banking companies’ financial reports of 2011. The level of transparency of the companies are scrutinized and measured accordingly to five bonus features, which may contribute to the transparency of annual bonus plans. The bonus plan is regarded as transparent if the majority of the following bonus criteria are fulfilled by the companies; (1) the application of simple targets through a single performance condition; (2) the application of published targets accessible to shareholders; (3) the disclosure of methods applied in order for shareholders and other stakeholders to determine whether the given performance target(s) has been fulfilled; (4) bonus payments in form of cash; (5) the disclosure of annual bonus cap.


The findings of this study show that a significant part of the banks can be considered as non-transparent due to the failure of fulfilling the given bonus plan features, meaning that the issue of disclosure and transparency of annual bonus plans should raise concern for shareholders and regulators, both on the EU-level and nationally. This study evidently shows that the level of information disclosed as to bonus plans of CEO various tremendously between the countries and sometimes also between the companies in the same country, which indicate the issue of disclosure and transparency of annual bonus plans need to be enhanced through regulations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 76 p.
Keyword [en]
Annual bonus plans, Remuneration, Chief executive officer, Disclosure, Transparency, Banking companies, Corporate governance, Managerial power theory, Rent-extraction
National Category
Economics and Business
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-21275OAI: diva2:624102
Available from: 2013-09-03 Created: 2013-05-29 Last updated: 2013-09-03Bibliographically approved

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