So far in an era of intensifying corporate accountability brought on by shareholder activism, banking executives have been coasting along mostly unperturbed.

Angry shareholders have forced out chief executives at some of the largest U.S. companies, including at Pfizer Inc., Boeing Co., Walt Disney Co., Merck & Co., and Morgan Stanley. Dire speculation swirls about the fates of the CEOs at Time Warner Inc., Dell Inc., and H.J. Heinz & Co.

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