The challenges confronting bank directors are coming from every direction. The public is angry about the bailout and hefty bonuses, and shareholders are angry about poor risk management. Politicians want more lending and oversight, and regulators want more caution and deference.

To make matters worse, these demands often conflict. How is a bank expected to increase lending and its capital cushion at the same time in a weak economic environment? How is it expected to lure and retain the talent necessary to survive when pay is being dissected by the media?

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