Insights

Institutional Shareholder Services Releases its 2019 Policy Survey Questionnaire

Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) recently issued its 2019 policy survey questionnaire, which previews potential changes in ISS’s proxy voting policies.

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Through its annual policy survey, ISS seeks feedback from institutional investors, public companies, corporate directors and the consulting and legal communities on emerging trends in corporate governance, executive compensation and other matters as part of its policy formulation process. The…

SEC Chair Announces Staff Review of Proxy Process

On July 30, 2018, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Jay Clayton announced that the SEC staff will be holding roundtable discussions with investors, public companies and other market participants about whether the SEC’s proxy rules should be refined.

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The last time that the SEC engaged in a wholesale review of the proxy rules was in 2010, at which time the SEC issued a concept release seeking public comment on whether the U.S. proxy system as a whole operates…

Long-Term Incentives and Stock Ownership Ensure Alignment with Shareholders

Annual incentive metrics serve an important purpose: communicate a company’s priorities and provide incremental annual feedback on performance.

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Much of the commentary on energy industry pay programs has focused on annual bonus metrics. Annual incentives are easier to analyze because the payouts are clearly disclosed each year in the Summary Compensation Table, and those payments can communicate how…

Report on Say on Pay and Select Shareholder Proposals For the 2018 Proxy Season

Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC is pleased to provide this periodic report on key voting results for the 2018 proxy season.

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Executive Summary Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC is pleased to provide this periodic report on key voting results for the 2018 proxy season. Specifically, this report will cover the following areas: ■ Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Say on Pay (SOP)…

Trends in Compensation: Committee Chairs & Lead Directors

From Boardroom Resources...In this episode, Bob Romanchek discusses current trends in director compensation.

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Compensation trends for lead directors and committee chairs have been interesting to follow in the years after Sarbanes-Oxley. Audit committee chairs were the first to be rewarded with higher pay; compensation committee chairs quickly followed suit as issues like Say…

Two Companies Settle Director Pay Lawsuits

Recently, two biotech companies (Clovis Oncology, Inc. and OvaScience, Inc.) agreed to settle director pay lawsuits, one of which is pending court approval1. The settlements, which are remarkably broad and prescriptive, set specified director pay levels (or pay range), mandate certain proxy disclosures and require the reformed director pay policies to be submitted to a binding shareholder vote.

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Clovis Oncology, Inc. and OvaScience, Inc. were subject to substantially similar shareholder derivative lawsuits brought by the same law firm. The lawsuits alleged that non-employee directors breached their fiduciary duties to shareholders by awarding themselves “excessive” compensation under non-shareholder approved…

Addressing Increased Scrutiny on Director Compensation: A Call to Action

Executive compensation has long been subject to intense scrutiny from regulators, proxy advisors and investors alike.

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Until recently, outside director compensation has not been subject to similar scrutiny primarily due to the narrow range of pay practices for directors, in both pay value and design/delivery. However, a new heightened level of scrutiny is now being applied…

2018 NACD Directorship 100 Released—the Annual List of the Most Influential Leaders in Boardrooms and in Corporate Governance

Michael Powers and Jim Wolf were named to the NACD Directorship 100 list for 2018, making it the sixth consecutive year for both Partners.

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The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the authority on boardroom practices representing more than 19,000 corporate board members, announced the 2018 NACD Directorship 100, an annual recognition of the leading corporate directors, corporate governance experts, policymakers, and influencers—leaders who…

Is it time for longer-term performance awards?

A variety of factors has escalated short-termism, including proliferation of technology and Wall Street’s relentless demand (and apparent rewards) for short-term profits.

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Short-termism: Acknowledging a Trend In his 2016 annual letter to CEOs, Larry Fink wrote: “I have written to the CEOs of leading companies urging resistance to the powerful forces of short-termism afflicting corporate behavior. Reducing these pressures and working instead…

Pay Trends in the Financial Services Industry

Reprinted from the July/August 2018 issue of NACD Directorship magazine

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The financial crisis and recession may be history, but the impact these events have had on the financial services industry remains. Meridian Compensation Partners LLC, a consulting firm that serves clients on executive compensation and governance matters, has a dedicated…

CEO Compensation in the Largest US Companies

Reprinted from Chief Executive Officer Magazine - Volume 1 2018

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Are US CEOs overpaid? Bob Romanchek, senior partner at the executive compensation consulting firm Meridian Compensation Partners, adds clarity to the issue by looking at the components of pay, the historic levels of total pay opportunity and the critical relationship…

Setting Goals to Incent High Performance

As seen in the 3rd Quarter 2018 issue of Bank Director

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High-performing banks define and execute their strategic vision by clearly articulating what they want to achieve and how they will do it. The old adage, “what gets measured, gets done”, is true when it comes to incentive plans. Companies that…

ISS Evaluation of Director Pay Could Lead to Negative Vote Recommendation on Select Board Members in 2019

Beginning this proxy season, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) began to examine the reasonableness of non-employee director pay. The outcome of this examination could lead ISS to issue a negative vote recommendation on incumbent directors serving on the board committee responsible for setting director pay who are standing for election in 2019.

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Under its new proxy voting policy on non-employee director compensation, ISS will generally recommend shareholders vote AGAINST members of the board committee that are responsible for approving or setting non-employee director (NED) compensation if there is a pattern (i.e., 2…

Compensation Advisors Deliver Advice on Taxes, Culture, and Big Investors

Reprinted editorial coverage from Leading Minds of Compensation–South, which is running in the May/June 2018 issue of NACD Directorship magazine.

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Regardless of how complex the process for setting and reporting on executive pay becomes, or how simple some critics believe the process should be, one truth reigns: money motivates. That was the theme when a panel of directors and compensation…

Preventative Care for Executive Compensation Programs

Reprinted from the May/June 2018 issue of NACD Directorship magazine

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In many cases, U.S. public companies receive a high level of support from shareholders for their annual advisory vote on the executive compensation program. Based on these results, companies often conclude there is no need to make any material changes…

Senate Banking Committee Requests Answers from Proxy Advisory Firms

Earlier this month, members of the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee sent letters to the two major proxy advisory firms, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis (GL), requesting answers about their business practices.

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In these letters, Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) and his colleagues raise questions related to each proxy advisory firm’s voting system, report inaccuracies and conflicts of interest. The letters also express concern about the proxy advisory firms’ market concentration and significantly…

NACD Leading Minds of Compensation – South

NACD's Leading Minds of Compensation program is a forum for engaged compensation committee chairs, members, and directors to exchange insights with the nation's top thought leaders.

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Meridian was proud to be a sponsor of this unique opportunity discussing the latest executive and director compensation challenges and trends. The country’s leading compensation experts including Lead Consultant, Virginia Rhodes, provided an invaluable outlook on compensation, and then opened…

2018 Trends and Developments in Executive Compensation

Meridian provides an overview of the current executive compensation and corporate governance landscape.

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In the past year, several factors have driven change in the executive compensation landscape in the U.S. Each year, Meridian identifies key developments regarding how companies respond to these ever changing conditions. (Read last year’s survey here.) This year share price…

Relative TSR Still Delivers Real Pay-for-Performance Alignment in the Oil & Gas Industry

Among the ten largest Oil & Gas production companies that have reported 2017-2018 compensation actions, each has either implemented or enhanced a financial returns metric for 2018 incentive compensation.

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The menu of industry annual incentive metrics (and some long-term incentive metrics) now includes several instances of ROCE, Cash ROCE, ROIC, estimated wellhead returns, and other non-GAAP measures of investment returns. Investors may welcome the incentive accountability to financial returns,…

Status of Proposals to Link State and Local Corporate Taxes to CEO Pay Ratio

As we reported last March, several jurisdictions have proposed (and one has enacted) tax surcharges, higher corporate income tax rates or fees tied to a public company’s CEO pay ratio. Since then, these proposals seem to have gained little legislative traction. This Update examines whether the ongoing public disclosures of CEO pay ratios have proven to be a catalyst for legislative action and whether other jurisdictions have proposed similar taxes.

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New Proposal – California Proposes Scaled Corporate Income Tax Rate Tied to a Public Company’s “Compensation Ratio” California is the sole jurisdiction to propose linking corporate income tax to a public company’s compensation ratio since last March. Submitted to the…