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Board Risk Oversight

Board Risk Oversight

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The Board oversees the Company’s risk profile and management’s processes for assessing and managing risk, both as a whole Board and through its committees. At least annually, the Board reviews strategic risks and opportunities facing the Company and certain of its businesses. Other important categories of risk are assigned to designated Board committees (which are comprised solely of independent directors) that report back to the full Board. In general, the committees oversee the following risks:

  • Audit Committee: risks related to financial controls, legal, regulatory and compliance issues, and the overall risk management governance structure and risk management function;
  • Compensation Committee: the design and operation of the Company’s compensation programs so that they do not encourage unnecessary or excessive risk-taking; Corporate
  • Governance and Business Ethics Committee: the Company’s political contributions, lobbying expenses and overall political strategy, as well as the Company’s environmental, sustainability and corporate social responsibility to minimize reputational risk and focus on future sustainability; 
  • Finance Committee: risks related to capital and liquidity management, incurrence and repayment of borrowings, the capital structure of the enterprise, funding of benefit plans, and the levels of insurance reserves and policyholder dividends;
  • Investment Committee: investment risk, and the strength of the investment function; and 
  • Risk Committee: the governance of significant risks throughout the Company, the Company’s overall risk profile, and coordination of the risk oversight functions of the other Board committees.

In performing its oversight responsibilities, the Board and its committees review policies and guidelines that senior management uses to manage the Company’s exposure to material categories of risk. As these issues sometimes overlap, committees hold joint meetings when appropriate and address certain issues at the full Board level. During 2016, the full Board received a report from the Chief Risk Officer on the important strategic issues and risks facing the Company. In addition, the Board and committees review the performance and functioning of the Company’s overall risk management function. The Risk Committee is comprised of the chairs of each of the other Board committees. The principal activities of the Risk Committee are to: oversee the Company’s assessment and reporting of material risks by reviewing the metrics used by management to quantify risk, applicable risk limit structures and risk mitigation strategies; review the Company’s processes and procedures for risk assessment and risk management, including the related assumptions used across the Company’s businesses and material risk types; and receive reports from management on material and emerging risk topics that are reviewed by the Company’s internal management committees.

The Company, under the Board’s oversight, is organized to promote a strong risk awareness and management culture. The Chief Risk Officer sits on many management committees and heads an independent enterprise risk management department; the General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer also sit on key management committees and the functions they oversee operate independently of the businesses to separate management and oversight. Employee appraisals evaluate employees with respect to risk and ethics.

We monitor the risks associated with our executive compensation program and individual compensation decisions on an ongoing basis. Each year management undertakes a review of the Company’s various compensation programs to assess the risks arising from our compensation policies and practices. Management presents these risk assessments to the Compensation Committee. The risk assessments have included a review of the primary design features of the Company’s compensation plans, the process to determine compensation pools and awards for employees and an analysis of how those features could directly or indirectly encourage or mitigate risk-taking. As part of the risk assessments, it has been noted that the Company’s compensation plans allow for discretionary negative adjustments to the ultimate outcomes, which serves to mitigate risk-taking.

Moreover, senior management is subject to a share retention policy, and historically a large percentage of senior management compensation has been paid in the form of long-term equity awards. In addition, senior management compensation is paid over a multiple-year cycle, a compensation structure that is intended to align incentives with appropriate risk-taking. The Company’s general risk management controls also serve to preclude decision-makers from taking excessive risk to earn the incentives provided under our compensation plans. The Compensation Committee agreed with the conclusion that the identified risks were within our ability to effectively monitor and manage, and that our compensation programs do not encourage unnecessary or excessive risk-taking and do not create risks that are reasonably likely to have a material adverse effect on the Company.

*SOURCE: PRUDENTIAL FINANCIAL, INC. 2017 PROXY STATEMENT