Morgan Stanley’s decision to award $20 million special bonuses to its runners-up for chief executive officer points to a governance risk, raising questions about their commitment to the company, according to Wells Fargo & Co. analyst Mike Mayo.

The Wall Street bank named Ted Pick its next CEO last week, saying his top competitors for the post, Andy Saperstein and Dan Simkowitz, would stay on, too. The plan includes share-based awards initially valued at $20 million apiece for all three executives, roughly equal to a year of their historic pay.

Mayo said that means the succession plan is “more reliant on comp than realized,” showing the bank is “paying top execs to stay, which to us at least raises a question about whether they are staying more due to comp than culture.”

The firm’s longtime CEO, James Gorman, had publicly vowed to defy a norm on Wall Street, in which big firms elevate a new boss only to set off a cascade of personnel changes as the incoming leader’s rivals depart. Bucking that trend, Morgan Stanley said last week that Saperstein and Simkowitz will remain at the company as co-presidents. 

Each award consists of 60% performance-stock units, with a performance period of 2024 to 2026, that convert to shares in 2027. The remaining 40% is comprised of restricted-stock units that vest and become shares in January 2027. The performance-stock units pay out in full only if the company reaches certain financial targets.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.