Do Independence and Financial Expertise of the Board Matter for Risk Taking and Performance?
We examine how risk taking and firm value are related to board independence and financial expertise for a broad sample of U.S. financial institutions during the 2001 to 2008 period. Market-based measures of risk are negatively related to the percent of independent directors, while market-based risk measures, leverage, and stock performance prior to the crisis are all positively related to the percent of independent directors who are financial experts. These associations are primarily driven by large banks in our sample. During the crisis, financial expertise is negatively related to both Tobin's Q and cumulative stock performance and positively related to the probability of receiving TARP funds. The results are consistent with financial expertise being associated with more risk taking and higher firm value especially for large banks prior to the crisis; however, the presence of financial experts on the banks' boards did not help in alleviating the impact of the financial crisis.
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