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Market Data in Context

Benchmarking compensation is the process of comparing pay levels and incentive design practices to the “market.”

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It is a quantifiable, objective way for a compensation committee to gauge how an executive is positioned versus the market, and helps the committee to understand what competitive pay is and if compensation arrangements are adequate to attract, retain and…

Let’s Push Things Forward

Reprinted from Chief Executive Officer Winter 2018 - With long-term incentives being the largest pay component for CEOs in the US, where are design practices heading?

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For well over 50 years, there has been the same three general design categories of long-term incentives for US-based CEOs. These have been full-value share grants, which vest over time and focus on retention; stock appreciation vehicles, such as stock…

Should Companies Use Individual Performance Measures in Executive Annual Incentive Plans?

When evaluating whether including an individual performance component is appropriate, companies may want to consider some questions.

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According to the Meridian 2017 Governance and Incentive Design Survey1, 43% of Meridian 200 companies use an individual performance component in their executive annual incentive plan, typically as a supplement to financial measures. Actual usage may be higher as the…

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…

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…

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…

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,…

Performance-Based Long-Term Incentives: What Have We Done?

From January/February 2018 NACDonline.org - Executive incentive design has grown incredibly complex. Boards should consider simplifying by aligning pay with long-term stock price performance.

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Are you satisfied with the design and operation of your company’s performance-based longterm incentive program for top executives? Chances are you are not. In chasing that ever-elusive pay-for performance vehicle design, you may have gone from stock options to performance…

Bringing Pay for Performance Into Focus Requires the Right Lens

By Annette Leckie and Charles Grace - Reprinted from the November/December 2017 issue of NACD Directorship magazine

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Savvy investors understand the value of a strong management team and are willing to pay handsomely—if company performance warrants. It’s important to design executive pay to reward great performance and penalize poor performance. In our experience, most directors strive to…

Sweeping Tax Reform Bill Passed by Congress

Congress has passed the most far reaching tax reform bill in over 30 years, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“Tax Act”). The Tax Act will affect nearly all taxpayers (business and individuals). Corporations will be subject to a significantly reduced income tax rate of 21% and generally will be taxed solely on U.S. based income (with some exceptions). Individuals will see the elimination of many itemized deductions but higher standard deductions and slightly lower marginal tax rates.

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Generally, the changes made to the Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) under the Tax Act are effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017. The changes to the corporate income tax provisions are permanent. However, most changes to individual income…

ISS Issues 2018 Final Policy Updates and Additional Guidance on Pay-for-Performance Assessment and Equity Plan Evaluations

Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) has issued final updates to its proxy voting policies for 2018 and significant guidance through a series of FAQs on certain U.S. compensation policies, including its methodologies for assessing pay for performance and equity plan proposals.

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Final Policy Updates for 2018 The policy updates and guidance revise ISS proxy voting policies and methodologies for U.S.-listed companies in the following areas relating to executive compensation and corporate governance: ■ ISS quantitative pay-for-performance assessment, ■ ISS Equity Plan…

Aligning Executive Pay With Company Performance

From C-Suite: An Equilar Publication Issue 25, Fall 2017 - Ask the Experts "A Delicate Balance...What Will be the Biggest Risk for Corporate Boards Looking Forward to 2018?"

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From an executive compensation perspective, boards have an important duty to pay executives appropriately in line with the underlying performance of the company. The age-old issue of paying for performance seems more complex than ever—and more highly scrutinized! The design…

Proxy Advisors and Investors Announce How They Will Use CEO Pay Ratios in 2018

The major proxy advisors and three large institutional shareholders announced that CEO pay ratios will have little to no impact on their vote recommendations and vote decisions, respectively, in 2018.

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At a recent conference hosted by CompensationStandards.com, David Kokell, Vice President of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), stated that CEO pay ratios will not have any impact on ISS’s analysis or vote recommendations in 2018. However, ISS will include the information…

2017 Meridian Corporate Governance and Incentive Design Survey

For the seventh straight year, Meridian has conducted an extensive survey based on the public filings of 200 large cap companies (“Meridian 200”). This survey seeks to capture trends on a variety of executive compensation and corporate governance topics facing major companies today.

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As companies review their executive compensation programs and related corporate governance policies, current market practices and recent trends can provide competitive benchmarks that are helpful in understanding current and future “best practices.” Highlights of Meridian’s 2017 Corporate Governance & Incentive…

CEO Pay Packages See Largest Increase Since 2013

A new Equilar report examines CEO compensation trends at Equilar 500 companies—the 500 largest, by reported revenue, U.S.-headquartered companies trading on one of the major U.S. stock exchanges—over the last five fiscal years. The study found that median CEO pay reached $11.0 million in 2016, up 6.1% and the largest increase since 2013. Meridian Compensation Partners offered independent commentary on how compensation awards are structured and eventually paid to CEOs.

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Over the last five years, the value of CEO pay packages has been steadily increasing as companies shift away from discretionary bonuses and stock options toward pay for performance, according to the most recent Equilar report, CEO Pay Trends 2017,…

IS A THREE-YEAR PERFORMANCE PERIOD REALLY LONG-TERM?

Tom McNeill and Jon Szabo of Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC discuss how three years being the standard for "long-term" incentive is not really long-term at all.

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Find this article and more in the NYSE Governance Services Corporate Board Member Magazine – nyse.com/governance Over the last 10–15 years, we have observed a sea change in long-term incentive (LTI) award design. The role of stock options has dramatically…

ISS Issues Technical Document on Financial Performance Assessment

The technical document provides insight into how ISS will perform its analysis.

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Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) for the first time will be evaluating a company’s performance relative to peer group performance against a broad spectrum of financial metrics. ISS will compare how a company’s CEO pay stacks up against the company’s relative…

Choosing the Right Performance Peer Group

Why companies are using PSU plans, and how to use them effectively.

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More and more public companies are adopting performance share unit (PSU) plans as a significant component of long-term (equity) compensation for executives.[1] The most common PSU performance metric is total shareholder return (TSR – i.e., stock price growth plus dividends)…

Considerations for Setting Incentive Plan Goals

Read this piece from Meridian Partner Tom Ramagnano and senior consultant Matt Wolfson, featured in NACD Directorship magazine.

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It’s that time of year when compensation committees begin the process of setting annual incentive goals for the upcoming performance cycle. For most public companies, these goals generally relate to financial metrics such as revenue, earnings, and cash flow that…