April 7, 2018 / 12:49 AM / 7 months ago

ISS recommends against Goldman pay plan, worried on costs

FILE PHOTO: A view of the Goldman Sachs stall on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 16, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

BOSTON (Reuters) - Proxy advisor Institutional Shareholder Services on Friday recommended investors vote against a stock plan for employees at Goldman Sachs Group Inc, concerned about its costs and the bank’s heavy use of stock-based compensation.

In a report to clients sent by an ISS spokesman, the leading proxy advisor wrote that the “the cost of the company’s equity plan and three-year burn rate are excessive.”

“Burn rate” measures the proportion of outstanding stock used to pay everyone from Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein to rank-and-file workers, and roughly tracks how fast investors are being diluted.

Goldman previously acknowledged its burn rate has been higher than rivals as it overhauls its strategy. Based on shareholder feedback, the New York bank had proposed to continue its equity plan for three years but request no new shares for issuance under the plan.

ISS also said it would offer just “cautionary” support in an advisory vote for the pay of top executives including Blankfein, who received about $22 million in 2017.

While investors will welcome a shift to more equity awards tied to performance, ISS wrote, Goldman’s compensation committee has much discretion in setting pay and goals for executives may not be so rigorous.

Goldman Sachs representatives did not immediately comment.

Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Sandra Maler

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