Acting as stewards of the investments of millions of citizens worldwide, institutional investors increasingly take environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into account when making investments in portfolio firms. Nevertheless, the ultimate success of these investment strategies will depend on the alignment of incentives of corporate managers with the long-term strategies that are necessary to ensure that the delivery of financial performance goes hand in hand with a positive contribution to society. And this will require profound changes to executive compensation. Since the 1990s, there has been much debate about executive compensation practices. Are compensation contracts designed to motivate managers by offering payment for long-term performance or are they the flawed result of malpractice that allows powerful managers to set high rewards for themselves even when other stakeholders are getting reduced shares of the value generated by the firm? This debate is now more important than ever considering the difficulties inherent in designing compensation based on measures of progress in ESG issues.
The SUERF and CNMV Conference on “Corporate governance, executive compensation and ESG goals” will contribute to this debate by bringing together an international group of academic researchers, regulators and institutional investors to bear on these issues.