The former CEO of a $120 billion company says Wall Street makes too much money -- and it's causing a huge problem

Chief Executives are under pressure to produce returns for shareholders  — often at any cost. 
Activist investors, who now manage some $174 billion in assets, have exploded onto the scene — shaking up boards and pushing for share repurchases, company breakups, or outright sales — in order to get stock prices higher.  
But the tradeoff of this focus on shareholder value, is spending that benefits other stakeholders  — like employees and customers, said Bill George, the former CEO of medical device company Medtronic.
Value has to be created for your customers and in turn your employees, George said in an interview with Marketplace’s 
Kai Ryssdal.

“If you do that,” he says, “you’ll have great value for your shareholders too.” 

George , who is a Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School, blames the swing to put shareholders before anyone else on the distortion of money in the financial services industry.

“The real problem is that there’s just too much money being made on Wall Street,” George said. “Last year, the top 25 hedge fund managers made $500 million average and the top 2 made a billion seven. There’s too high fees. The idea of getting 2% of a person’s funds plus 20% of the upside and not sharing in the downside is leading to a lot of short term distortion in the market and unnecessary short term pressures on CEOs.” 

Listen to the whole interview here:


“The Price of Profits,” our series with Marketplace, looks at what happens when profits become a company’s product. For more, visit

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