Looking for a cushy job with great pay and low responsibility? Be a bank CEO!
Here's how it works:
* Take the job after an economic downturn, when your predecessor is forced out after presiding over the loss of billions in bad-debt and trading write-offs (don't worry, your predecessor won't starve in retirement).
* Immediately take huge additional write-offs and reserves and blame them on your predecessor. Clean up balance sheet so your performance bar is so low you could fall over it.
* Announce "new era" in which Your Bank will focus on conservative, fee- and spread-based businesses in which you grow steadily and prudently.
* Sit in your chair for two years while economic recovery (and your earlier write-offs) deliver strong earnings to the bottom line.
* Smile for the cameras. Have PR people place a Fortune cover story entitled "The Wizard Who Turned Around [Your Bank"]!
* Renegotiate contract extension from position of strength. Include new provisions that tie your comp directly to earnings and stock performance.
* Announce that, given the huge opportunities in the markets, Your Bank will take a bit more risk (prudent, of course) to improve return on equity.
* Encourage your traders to make huge bets.
* Sit in your chair for three years and collect at least $50 million a year during rest of bull market while those bets pay off.
* When market finally turns (sorry, it always does), briefly deny that the downturn will affect Your Bank.
* When it's clear that your traders were just bull-market geniuses and have gambled away all the "profits" Your Bank booked in the previous three years, blame them and express disappointment. Then hang around to see whether market cares.
* If market demands resignation, resign, collect $500 million severance, and join private equity firm.
* If market yawns, re-up for another cycle and do it all over again!
See Also: Time For Lousy Bank CEOs To Step Down