U.S. looks at financial sector pay overhaul: report

(Reuters) - The Obama administration has commenced discussions on an initiative to change compensation practices in the financial-services industry, even at companies that were not recipients of federal bailout money, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The plan aims to broadly address the way financial companies pay employees and executives and also includes an attempt to more closely align pay with long-term performance, the paper said.

Options being considered by the administration and regulatory officials include using the Federal Reserve’s supervisory powers, the power of the Securities and Exchange Commission and moral suasion, the paper said, adding that officials are also looking at what could be done legislatively.

Wall Street bankers and money managers have faced growing scrutiny over their pay packages amid the worst U.S. economic crisis since the Great Depression, which has forced the government to use taxpayers’ money to rescue ailing banks.

Officials are discussing Fed rules that would curb banks’ ability to pay employees in a way that would threaten the “safety and soundness” of the bank, such as paying loan officers for the volume of business they do, not the quality, the paper said.

The administration is also discussing issuing “best practices” to guide firms in structuring pay, according to the paper.

Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Kim Coghill