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Daniel Amos has taken transparency very seriously throughout his nearly 20 years at the helm of Columbus, Georgia–based insurer Aflac.
Age : 57
Year Named CEO : 1990
Number of Employees : 4,400
2008 Stock Performance : 25.5 percent
Annual Compensation : $9.7 million
Stock Options : $5.4 million
Daniel Amos has taken transparency very seriously throughout his nearly 20 years at the helm of Columbus, Georgiabased insurer Aflac. He was one of the first major American CEOs to adopt a "say-on-pay" policy. Approved in February 2007, the policy will give shareholders a nonbinding vote on executive compensation beginning this year. In recent months he has stepped up communications with shareholders to reassure them about the companys performance amid financial market volatility and widespread economic distress.
"Never have I seen a period of time like this, and I think as a CEO it requires you to be very transparent even down to the minor details," Amos says. "If anyone asks anything, you try to give them more information than normal because they are very nervous."
Amos has had plenty of explaining to do lately because of Aflacs $9.1 billion investment portfolio of perpetual debentures issued by European banks. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the company took a $117 million loss on its holdings of perpetuals issued by three failed Icelandic banks. Those losses contributed to a 48.4 percent drop in earnings that quarter, compared with the year-earlier period, to $197 million. Concern about the value of the securities has also weighed on Aflacs stock price, and it prompted Standard & Poors to downgrade the companys debt rating by one notch, to A, in January.
CEO Amos insists that the securities remain solid long-term investments and that Aflac has no plans to sell them at a loss. But he announced in February that he was declining his $2.8 million bonus for 2008 to signal to shareholders that he was "in touch with them," as he puts it. Three months earlier he gave up his $13 million "golden parachute" severance package.
"The thing that I have counted on in good times and in bad times is this transparency, that hopefully translates into trust," he says.