They pay your wages and run your local shops. Their shares might feature in your pension fund or belong to you as a taxpayer. As the London-based City Editor, I keep an eye on the companies that dominate our economic life and the men and women who run them.
In its first Annual Review of Governance & Stewardship designed to lift the lid on the way it engages with companies, Standard Life said it sought changes to controversial bonuses proposed by Barclays last year.
It also highlighted concerns about pay at Aviva and the recruitment of former Standard Life executive Trevor Matthews, who has the role of executive director, developed markets at Aviva.
The shale gas and oil industry has expanded rapidly in the US, although controversy remains over fracking – releasing hydrocarbons by pumping water, chemicals and sand at high pressure to fracture the shale rock.
In his first appearance in front of a Parliamentary inquiry since RBS was part-nationalised, Johnny Cameron, former investment banking chief, said Mr Goodwin had a "frank exchange of views" over the issue with colleagues as the bank teetered on the brink of collapse in 2008.
But Mr Cameron, the only RBS executive to have faced action from regulators after being barred from senior roles by the Financial Services Authority, said it had a "moral culture" during Mr Goodwin's tenure.