Insights

SEC Issues Proposed Rules Regulating Proxy Advisory Firms

On November 5, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued proposed rules that would impose a new regulatory regime on proxy advisory firms (“PAFs”).

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Since the SEC held its roundtable discussion on the proxy voting process in November 2018, the SEC has indicated that it was poised to issue proposed rules regulating PAFs. The issuance of the proposed rule represents the culmination of a…

Managing Disclosure on Personal Use of Corporate Aircraft

Personal use of corporate aircraft remains a popular perquisite among many of the largest public companies.

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In addition to getting executives to important business destinations and enabling them to work proactively while traveling, many companies provide top executives the opportunity to use the corporate aircraft for non-business purposes, including travel to outside company board meetings, spousal…

Meridian Promotes Two New Partners

Meridian Compensation Partners is pleased to announce that Jon Szabo (Dallas) and Virginia Rhodes (Atlanta) have been elected to join the partnership effective January 1, 2020.

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Each year Meridian evaluates partner candidates based on a broad range of important criteria covering personal attributes, outstanding client service and consulting skills, financial contributions and personal values. Jon helped launch Meridian in 2010, and has been a strong contributor…

Planning CEO Transitions: Compensation Committee Best Practices

Partner Jared Berman spoke with TK Kerstetter of Diligent's Inside America's Boardrooms and outlined best practices for boards that have the luxury of time.

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When it comes to CEO transitions, boards should be prepared for the “hit by a bus” scenario. But what about the other side of the spectrum (i.e., a planned departure of a long-tenured CEO)? If you have the luxury of…

Prepping Your Clawback Policy for Prime Time

As seen in the November/December 2019 issue of the NACD Director Advisory

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In the wake of corporate scandals and high-profile executive misconduct, compensation committees are reviewing the adequacy of their clawback and forfeiture policies. Board members want to be assured they have the tools needed if they find themselves in the headlines.…

Career Congratulations to John Anderson

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Meridian Compensation Partners LLC congratulates John Anderson on his recent retirement from the firm and partnership. John has been a true cornerstone of our firm and his contributions as an executive compensation and corporate governance advisor have helped build Meridian…

Report on Say on Pay and Select Shareholder Proposals For the 2019 Proxy Season

Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC is pleased to provide this periodic report on key voting results for the 2019 proxy season.

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Executive Summary Specifically, this report will cover the following areas: ■   Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Say on Pay (SOP) Vote Results and Analysis, ■   Russell 3000 SOP Vote Results and Analysis, and ■   Analysis of Vote Results on Select…

Time to Check Your Equity Incentive Plan Share Reserve

With depressed energy stocks, more shares are now needed to maintain recent levels of employee equity awards.

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This increase in share use also means that equity incentive plan reserves will drain at a faster rate, and may run out sooner than expected. Companies often ask for more shares when there is roughly enough left in the plan…

2019 Meridian Corporate Governance and Incentive Design Survey

For the ninth straight year, Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC has conducted an extensive Survey of 200 large cap companies (“Meridian 200”) to identify trends on a variety of executive compensation and corporate governance topics. Discussed below are the results of the Survey.

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The Survey provides current market practices, recent trends and key competitive benchmark data that should assist companies in the review of their executive compensation program designs and related corporate governance policies. Highlights of Meridian’s 2019 Corporate Governance & Incentive Design…

Fostering Diversity in Board Pay Practices, Part One

In this two-part series, we examine the current state of board compensation and whether it accommodates evolving governance practices.

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In recent years, we have observed a remarkable level of homogenization of compensation practices for non-employee directors, even as what is expected from board members of public companies continues to evolve and – generally speaking – expand. In our client work,…

Why Pre-IPO Peer Groups are (or at least should be) Different

External benchmarking provides critical information for executive pay decisions.

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Most compensation committees review information gathered from a customized peer group of companies as part of compensation program development and relative performance reviews, and peer group construction is often a matter of significant debate. Common sense would suggest that if…

Council of Institutional Investors (CII) Overhauls its Policy on Executive Compensation

On September 17, 2019, the Council of Institutional Investors (CII) announced an overhaul of its policy on executive compensation, urging public companies to reduce the complexity of their executive compensation plans and set longer service-based periods for time-based equity awards.

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CII is an influential advocacy group for institutional investors. Its membership includes a wide range of asset managers with over $35 trillion in assets under management. To advance the interests of its members and reflect changes in the corporate governance…

Compensation: Quiet Before the Storm?

Why now is the right time for an executive compensation audit. As seen in Corporate Board Member Fourth Quarter 2019.

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Compensation committees fared well in the 2019 proxy season, with the vast majority of Russell 3000 companies receiving support on their compensation programs from proxy advisors and shareholders. Yet, compensation programs continue to be a hot=button issue for stakeholders, with…

Summary of Key Results from ISS 2019 Annual Policy Survey

ISS’s recent Policy Survey previews potential changes in to 2020 proxy voting policies.

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Each year, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) surveys institutional investors, public companies (“issuers”) and the consulting and legal communities on emerging corporate governance and executive compensation issues as part of its annual policy formulation process (the “Survey”). Issuers and their advisors…

Corporate Share Repurchase Programs Draw Increasing Criticism

Since 2009, corporate share repurchase programs have been a ubiquitous feature of many public companies’ capital allocation strategies. Generally, these programs have been applauded by institutional shareholders, while raising little concern by other parties. That dynamic is now changing with share repurchase programs drawing sharp criticism from politicians, state and union pension funds, and others.

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Recently, politicians, the media, academics and governance experts have criticized company stock buyback programs as a mechanism for enriching shareholders and executives through short-term boosts in a company’s stock price, while harming employees and misallocating capital to the detriment of…

SEC Issues Guidance on Proxy Advisory Firms

On August 21, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued guidance covering the role that proxy advisory firms play in the proxy voting process and the use of proxy advisory firms by investment advisers.

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Despite reports to the contrary, the guidance (which does not carry the weight of law) does not represent meaningful federal oversight of proxy advisory firms. In fact, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis already largely comply with the guidance.…

Board Compensation, Diversity Under Scrutiny

As seen in the 3rd Quarter 2019 issue of Bank Director

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Similar to trends in other industries, banks have been simplifying their director pay programs. Slightly more than half of publicly traded banks with $1 billion to $10 billion in assets increased cash retainers instead of offering board meeting fees. Board…

Managing Executive Incentive Programs for Chemical Companies

Designing and managing effective compensation programs is challenging for chemical industry companies due to the highly cyclical and global nature of the business.

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This article offers some useful context and information for compensation committees and management teams of chemical companies to consider when designing and managing their executive pay programs. In particular, we cover key attributes of the industry and their impact on…

Institutional Shareholder Services Releases its 2019 Policy Survey Questionnaire

Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) recently issued its 2019 policy survey questionnaire, which generally 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…