The Motley Fool Previous Page

Jerks and Their Perks

Alyce Lomax
May 28, 2010

What do you call somebody who accepts rewards he or she doesn't really deserve? Someone who balks, scoffs, or acts clueless when you demand rational examples of good performance over time? Someone who wants a bailout when things go wrong, but still keeps pushing for more goodies, even after screwing up?

The word "jerk" comes to mind. Then again, so does "typical CEO of a major company."

So what do you pay for?
A recent Washington Post article pointed out that last year, Wall Street CEOs continued to receive lavish perks, even at businesses that took government money. These cushy extras included "country club dues, chauffeured drivers, personal finance planning services, home security services, and parking."

The article pointed out that JPMorgan Chase's (NYSE: JPM  ) Jamie Dimon enjoyed a 19% increase in perks in 2009, up to $266,000 -- including $91,000 in personal travel on the company plane.

Apparently, a lot of CEOs have been feeling pretty insecure lately. Dimon, Goldman Sachs' (NYSE: GS  ) Lloyd Blankfein, and Capital One Financial's (NYSE: COF  ) Richard Fairbank all received higher (and pricier) levels of personal and home security in 2009.

Compensation consultant Equilar studied 29 large recipients of federal aid, discovering that 1 in 3 of them boosted such extra goodies for their CEOs.

Soaring perks for some
Alas, Wall Street's little different from most of the rest of corporate America, where countless corporations' boards of directors express no qualms about handing out such largesse at shareholder expense.

In a recent look at top execs' "security" perk, I noted that while some companies have ratcheted back such expenses, other CEOs enjoyed an increase in that benefit last year. That's ironic, since many Americans felt much more financially insecure in the same period of time.

The price tag for Starbucks' (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) CEO Howard Schultz's protection increased 25% to $640,000 in 2009, while (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) spent an eye-popping $1.7 million on varying security measures for Jeff Bezos.

Beyond the Wall Street types, though, the prize for "Most Outrageous" probably goes to Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF  ) , which recently decided to pay CEO Mike Jeffrie