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The Demise of TSR as the Primary Executive Pay Performance Measure

Reprinted from NACD Directorship November/December 2018 Issue

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During the past decade, the use of total shareholder return (TSR) has risen rapidly in prevalence as a performance metric in executive long-term incentive plans. Many compensation committees believed this was a direct way to align executive pay and performance.…

Don’t Miss an Opportunity to Optimize Retirement Within Your LTI Program

As employees age, both employers and employees tend to think strategically about retirement, but their perspectives are rarely the same. 

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Employers are generally focused on maximizing productivity and facilitating smooth transitions, while employees are generally focused on timing – not only about when will they have enough money for a comfortable retirement, but also what will they forfeit when they…

In What Circumstances do Special Equity Grants Make Sense?

As executive compensation consultants, we often receive questions from Compensation Committee members regarding the possibility of “one-time” equity grants for senior executives. There are various important considerations when contemplating such awards.

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Based on our experience, it is important to understand the many inputs and ensure the Committee is making informed decisions with “eyes wide open” to avoid surprises. Awards should focus on specific intended objectives. From time to time, Compensation Committees…

2018 Meridian Corporate Governance and Incentive Design Survey

For the eighth 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 of interest to major companies today.

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As companies review their executive compensation program designs and related corporate governance policies, current market practices and recent trends can provide competitive benchmarks that are helpful in understanding “best practices,” as well as facilitate productive boardroom discussions. Highlights of Meridian’s…

Relative TSR for Resource Companies: Does it Still Make Sense?

Similar to the U.S., Canadian institutional investors, such as the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, with assets under management of ~$190 billion and an advocate for good compensation governance, have been pushing back on the use of relative TSR on the basis that this measure can reward management of “chronically underperforming” industries.

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Relative total shareholder return (relative TSR), the most commonly used performance share unit (PSU) measure, has recently been challenged by institutional investors. Earlier this year Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) released an article entitled “Is Management Compensation Rewarding the Right…

10 Keys to Great Compensation Committee Processes

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Executive compensation is complex and institutional investors and proxy advisors are increasingly aggressive and prescriptive in their views of executive compensation. This makes the role of a public company compensation committee complex and demanding. It is now more important than…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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,…

Vesting Doesn’t Make Sense

From Corporate Board Member - "Board Governance Series," Second Quarter 2018

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It usually perks up the ears of most corporate directors when you say “board compensation.” What’s happened recently in this area, particularly with equity grants? If you take a step back, outside director compensation has generally been in a pretty…