8 Outrageous Executive Perks

Should you invest in a company that throws such lavish bonuses at its top personnel?

It's annual-meeting season, which means shareholders are about to get their once-a-year look at the pay and goodies given to corporate top dogs as disclosed in company proxy statements.

The multimillion-dollar pay packages handed out this year will make headlines, but shareholders would be wise to also mind the little things: the perks, such as cars and country-club memberships, awarded to the honchos. These give-aways are important beyond their cost, says Nell Minow, editor of The Corporate Library, an independent research and rating firm. "They show that the board is spineless," says Minow. "If the board can't say no to the CEO on some ridiculous perk, what are directors going to do when the issues are bigger?"

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Kathy Kristof
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Kristof, editor of SideHusl.com, is an award-winning financial journalist, who writes regularly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance and CBS MoneyWatch. She's the author of Investing 101, Taming the Tuition Tiger and Kathy Kristof's Complete Book of Dollars and Sense. But perhaps her biggest claim to fame is that she was once a Jeopardy question: Kathy Kristof replaced what famous personal finance columnist, who died in 1991? Answer: Sylvia Porter.