Corporate governance of banks: A survey
This paper reviews the empirical literature on the corporate governance of banks. We start by highlighting the main differences between banks and non-financial firms and focus on three characteristics which make banks special: (i) regulation, (ii) the capital structure of banks, and (iii) the complexity and opacity of their business and structure. Next, we discuss the characteristics of corporate governance in banks and how they differ from the governance of non-financial firms. We then review the evidence on three governance mechanisms: (i) boards, (ii) ownership structures, and (iii) executive compensation. Our review suggests that some of the empirical regularities found in the literature on corporate governance of nonfinancial institutions, such as the positive (negative) association between board independence (size) and performance, do not hold for banks. Also, existing work provides less than conclusive results regarding the relation between different governance mechanisms and various measures for banks’ performance. We discuss potential explanations for these mixed results.
Keywords: banking, governance, boards, bank ownership, executive remuneration.
JEL classification: G21, G34, G35.
Working paper no. 386