Agency Problem

MoneyBestPal Team
A common issue that arises in many situations where one party (the agent) acts on behalf of another party (the principal).

The agency problem is a frequent issue that appears whenever one party (the agent) acts on behalf of another party (the principal). 

Although the agent is required to operate in the principal's best interests, there are situations when they may be tempted to act on their own. This may cause a conflict of interest and a breakdown of confidence between the parties.

The asymmetry of information between the agent and the principal is one of the major reasons for the agency problem. The agent frequently has access to, or is more knowledgeable than, the principal, giving them the upper hand or a chance to take advantage of, the principal. For instance, a fund manager who is more knowledgeable about the financial markets than a client may utilize this to charge more fees, engage in excessive trading, or make riskier investments without the investor's knowledge or permission.

The misalignment of goals or incentives between the agent and the principal is another factor contributing to the agency problem. The agent and the principal might have different preferences, levels of risk tolerance, and time horizons, which could have an impact on the decisions and actions they make. For instance, a CEO may have a short-term incentive to increase profits by reducing expenses, whereas shareholders may favor a long-term plan that invests in innovation and expansion.

The principal and the agent may both suffer penalties as a result of the agency problem. Loss of control over their assets or interests, decreased performance, poorer returns, or increased costs are all potential consequences for the principal. If the agent is discovered, they risk being sued, suffering harm to their reputation, losing their credibility, or having their contract terminated.

There are several ways to mitigate or prevent the agency problem from occurring or escalating. Some of these include:
  • Contract design: A contract that details the obligations, obligations, expectations, and rewards of the agent may be agreed upon by the principal and the agent. The parties' incentives and interests should be in line with the contract, which should also have checks and balances to ensure compliance.
  • Transparency: The agent should communicate with the principal on a frequent basis and honestly about their actions and results. Verifiable information and reports demonstrating the agent's performance and behavior should also be made available to the principal.
  • Corporate governance: A board of directors, audit committee, or external auditor can be chosen by the principal to supervise and control the agent's operations. These organizations are able to independently monitor the agent and offer comments and accountability.
  • Ethics: The actor should uphold the moral standards and values that direct their behavior and judgment. In addition to acting with honesty, professionalism, and fairness, the agent should respect the principal's authority and the trust he or she has placed in them.