Who works for whom?
Over recent weeks we have seen reports of a number of corporate Annual General Meetings, where the remuneration packages of senior executives have been under fire. The main allegation this time is not that senior executives earn too much, but rather that they are ‘rewarded for failure’. This question has, quite rightly, taken up a lot of column inches and much air-time and will continue to do so, at least until the economy picks up again.
There is an associated issue which has been aired much less. Although it is the senior executives who are appointed (sic) by the shareholders to run the company on their behalf, they are only the public faces of a much larger organisation. The board cannot have a detailed understanding of what goes on in every department on a daily basis. Their responsibility is to set the boundaries within which the departments, including the treasury, should operate and then to oversee the systems of control to ensure they do.
The departments have a responsibility to operate within the limits and not to take any unacceptable risks. To allow the board to do its job, the departments must also keep the board informed about their work, via a system of regular reporting.
This reflects the fact that the treasury team, as with the members of all other departments, also work for the shareholders. The board is, in many ways, simply the conduit between the two.