Take Personal Responsibility for Your Retirement it is Your Problem

by Evan

I am not sure where I fall on the issue of egregious CEO compensation, but there is never a shortage of people attacking CEOs for making too much money.  Like a lot of things in life, the issue itself doesn’t excite me as much as trying to understand the extremes on both sides.  So I was particularly intrigued to read the comments on a recent article highlighting 3Ms CEO selling his stock worth more than $33,000,000.

For any intelligent person that follows the stock market in any meaningful way they would likely understand that he amassed these shares through stock options utilized as compensation.  Yahoo Finance points out succinctly,

A regulatory filing shows that 3M Co. chief executive George Buckley plans to sell almost one-third of his company stock, worth more than $33 million.

The prearranged plan would have Buckley sell about 350,000 shares of 3M common stock over the next two months. The shares were acquired through stock-option exercises and will be sold in accordance with minimum price thresholds.

The comments didn’t fail me, however, one in particular really caught my eye:

3M CEO plans to sell a third of company stock - Yahoo! Finance Comment

I have a tendency to react immediately so I thought to myself that “GreyBeard” is just another one of those near retirees that is pissed off because they didn’t save enough for retirement.  I tried to stop myself from judging a book by “his” cover but then I looked up 3Ms generous stock options for employees:

3M’s combination of savings, retirement benefits and financial education resources help you plan for and manage your financial well-being at all stages of your life—both during and beyond your 3M career.

Personal Savings
After two months of service at 3M, our General Employees Stock Purchase Plan allows you to contribute 3-10 percent of your after-tax pay to purchase 3M stock at an option price that is 85 percent of the fair market value of the stock.

3M’s Retirement Program provides a solid foundation of retirement benefits, which includes a 401(k) Plan with a company matching contribution, employer contributions to a Retirement Income Account and a Retiree Medical Savings Account (RMSA) to help offset the cost of pre-Medicare medical coverage in retirement.

So this individual could have bought 3M stock for 85% of the asking price for 34 years:

3M Stock Price 30 Years

Look at those dividend payouts and stock splits. If one share was purchased in 1980 for $5 it would be equal to 8 shares today for a total of about $800 and that is ignoring reinvested dividends! IGNORING REINVESTED DIVIDENDS if he bought 1,358 shares over the first 6 years of working at MMM (before the first split) he would have had over $1,000,000.  Is it $33mil? No but it would have been a start.


Do you work at a Fortune 500 company that offers a way to cheaply invest? Do you take advantage of it? Do I judge too much?

I don’t think it matters for purposes of this post, but I do own a few shares of 3m

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Kevin May 20, 2011 - 9:14 am

Great post. I don’t know if that has been their policy for 34 years, but I’m sure they had something in place for that guy.

Anyone who complains about not having enough money is, at the very least, wasting energy on complaining that they could be spending on fixing their problems.

krantcents May 20, 2011 - 11:26 am

There will always be someone who feels this way. They should take personal responsibility for their actions or non-actions. Too many people are unwilling to sacrifice today to enjoy a better future. Yet, the same people will complain about their circumstances.

retirebyforty May 20, 2011 - 12:19 pm

I work for a big tech. company and most people sell their Stock Purchase Plan (SPP) shares right away to lock in the 15% gain. Some people kept them and sold when they need money for new car, house payment, and other big tickets items.

When I first started, I saved every shares and lost a lot of money during the dot com bubble. The stock has not recovered in the last 10 years. Now I sell those SPP shares in a year or two to avoid short term tax rate and reinvest somewhere else.

Clay Ivy Finance May 20, 2011 - 6:49 pm

You can’t discount the future. You have to prepare today for what might happen in the future. If it was easy, everyone would be rich.

Miss T May 21, 2011 - 10:43 am

We don’t have this option at our work but we do have a defined benefit pension. I too agree is it is your responsibility.

Funny about Money May 21, 2011 - 6:07 pm

Nice post.

One of the world’s great wastes of time is bellyaching at someone else’s good fortune. As you rightly point out, most of the time we make our own fortune, good, bad, or middling.

I personally would not buy a lot of stock options in a company I worked for. I would want my retirement investments more broadly diversified. That may be a way of saying I don’t trust any one corporation. But hey…do I look like I’ve retired a millionaire? 😉

Financial Samurai May 22, 2011 - 9:40 pm

Very nice example of what an employee could have done over the years. Anybody expecting the gov’t to take care of us during retirement simply shouldn’t. They’ll find a way to screw us.


NDMBA May 23, 2011 - 1:10 pm

Wow, that’s a huge return on the 3M stock. I do not think you are judging this guy too much. Honestly, I feel that when you complain without being constructive in a public forum you are opening yourself to this kind of criticism.

As for the stock options, I’d love to have this opportunity available to me at work but like RetireBy40 I’d try to exercise them regularly so as not to be overly invested in my own company’s stock. So I would never have gotten the full returns you show for 3M.

The Passive Income Earner May 24, 2011 - 8:47 pm

I have read from a TD executive that the best investment they ever made was buy shares in the TD stock purchase plan and let it ride … Same scenario as the 3M example.

Discipline is required to stick with it!

Doable Finance May 25, 2011 - 1:19 am

Fixing problems is better suited to one’s finances than complaining which does not solve anything most of the time.


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