Corporate Governance in Banking System.

Ines Dika, Rezart Dibra, Fran Brahimi, Ylber Bezo


Banks have a central role in any economy. They mobilize funds, allocate capital  and play a decisive role in the corporate gove rnance of other firms. All this means that,  when banks are efficient, they stimulate productivity growth and the prosperity of the  whole economy. On the other hand, banking crises are able to destabilize the economic  and political situation of nations. These strong externalities on the economy make the  corporate governance of banks a fundamental issue. Well-governed banks will be more efficient in their functions than those governed poorly (Levine, 2003). And as a result of its relevance, in the case of banks, corporate governance is not merely a private, but also a public affair manifest through the existence of bank regulation and supervision. Furthermore, not only the good governance of banks is important, but the question  arises as to whether it is different from other  firms. As this paper will show, banks appear  to pose new questions to the corporate governance problem due to their intrinsic  characteristics and their regulated condition. In the current European situation, where the  deregulation process has dramatically changed the competitive scenario of the banking  industry in the recent years, understanding the corporate governance of banks becomes an  exciting challenge. Given that the failure of the boards of directors and management is acknowledged  to be one of the major causes of the collapse of many banks (Office of the Comptroller of  the Currency, 1988), we believe that a better knowledge of the particular way banking  firms are and should be governed will be very helpful in preventing important not only private, but also social costs derived from bank failures or simply poor bank performance. From the banks’ perspective, the fine development of a governance system should be a main matter of concern and could constitute an essential strategic strength for banks willing to be competitive in the new EU scenario.In this paper we review the academic literature trying to understand the special characteristics of the corporate governance of banks and its role for the good performance of the banking firm. Our findings can be briefly summarized around three main questions:

1.Why are banks different?Existing research points at diverse features, such as,regulation,supervision, capital structure,risk, fiduciary relationships, ownership, and deposit insurance, that would make banks special and thereby influence their corporate governance.

2.What is different about the corporate governance of banks?According to past studies, boards of directors and takeovers, both friendly and hostile, play a weaker disciplinatory role in banks; even though boards are larger, more independent, have a superior number of committees and meet more often. Top executives compensation is higher in banking, but pay-performance sensitivity is lower. Finally, while banks present more dispersed ownership structures, high government participation is common all over the world.

3. What works for banks? Within the governance system, the elements that seem to lead banks to increased performance,as suggested by the empirical evidence on the issue, are ownership concentration, certain levels of managerial shareholdings and larger boards. All this make us think that the whole understanding of the corporate governance problem may vary considerably with the industry and, perhaps, this could be one of the reasons behind the lack of more significant results in the corporate governance literature. In this sense, on top of banks, other sectors of the economy might benefit from this industry-specific study too by considering the potential uses of regulation to enhance their competitiveness.Nonetheless, it might also be important to keep in mind that the number of studies that focus specifically in the banking sector is not so large at the present moment and they have primarily been based on US banks. Therefore, it remains yet to be seen whether further research will confirm the current findings on the specific governance  mechanisms conducing to the improved financial performance of banks. It is necessary to make clear some delimitations to our study. The corporate governance role played by banks in other firms has been broadly touched upon in the academic literature, but it does not constitute the object of our research in this paper, where we are concerned with the way banks themselves are being governed. Finally, the surveyed  literature focuses mainly on commercial banks or universal banks that undertake the full  range of traditional banking services.

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