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COVID-19’s Incentive Impact: While Most Companies Wait, Companies with Early FYEs are Forced to Act

We are increasingly participating in board-level discussions focused on how to ensure that management teams stay focused, engaged and properly incentivized.

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When the COVID-19 pandemic started to spread across the United States, boards of directors initially focused on ensuring the safety of their employees and customers and managing to stabilize their businesses for uncertain times ahead. Early on, many companies were…

Embrace the Use of Discretion in This New Era

Reprinted Director Advisory article in the July/August issue of NACD Directorship.

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So far in 2020, market volatility, economic uncertainty, severe business disruptions, and concerns over employee health have materially changed how leaders approach business planning. These breaks from the norm have and will continue to have an impact on compensation committees’ …

Compensation Committees: What to Do With 2020 Bonus Plans?

It’s been an unprecedented year for everyone, compensation committees included.

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At the onset of COVID-19, the popular advice for adjusting annual bonus pay was to “wait and see.”  Now several weeks in, some companies have begun restructuring bonuses. What actions are they taking? In this episode, Chris Havey, Partner &…

Predicting the Future of E&P Bonus Design

The current oil and gas market challenges are testing the efficacy of prevailing bonus plan structures among exploration and production (E&P) companies.

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E&P bonus plans have historically aligned with growth and investment, focusing on volume (production and reserves) and cost reduction, measures that are more controllable by management and less impacted by commodity prices than earnings-based metrics. In recent years, investors and…

Director Compensation: Key Considerations During COVID-19

From Inside America's Boardrooms/Diligent

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Much like executive compensation, director pay will be met with institutional shareholder scrutiny in the months ahead. Investors and proxy advisors will scrutinize stock option awards, meeting fees, and whether board pay remains steady amid lay-offs and revenue declines. How should…

Compensation Committee Challenges Amid COVID-19

From Inside America's Boardrooms/Diligent

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Most compensation committees finalized executive compensation plans, targets, and awards at the end of February, never expecting that COVID-19 would come next. Now boards are left to navigate a crisis environment with a very unpredictable future. In this episode of…

Retail on the Ropes, But Punching Back

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With phrases like “shelter-in-place,” “social distancing” and “flattening the curve” becoming common vernacular, the U.S. and its economy have entered uncharted waters in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While many industries are feeling the effects of this evolving crisis, retailers…

Emerging Topics for Compensation Committees

Partner Virginia Rhodes spoke with TK Kerstetter of Diligent's Inside America's Boardrooms and outlined several emerging compensation committee issues.

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Executive compensation continues to be a major focus for institutional investors, yet the conversation is shifting. Compensation committee agendas have expanded to include topics like human capital management, company culture, ESG, and succession planning—all factors that are increasingly tied to…

Compensation Committees: Good Governance Process Leads to Effective Decision-Making

Compensation Committees (“Committees”) are held to the highest legal standard when setting the compensation of executive officers.

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That is, Committee decision-making must pass muster under fiduciary standards to be defensible and withstand judicial scrutiny. To meet these fiduciary standards, Compensation Committees should have in place a robust governance process from which to develop sound compensation determinations and…

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.…

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…

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…

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…

How Should Boards Handle Involuntary CEO Retirement?

Meridian Lead Consultant Jon Szabo spoke with Corporate Board Member in the video below about how boards can navigate the uncharted territory of involuntary retirements from CEOs and how to craft their exit packages.

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In the first quarter of 2019 alone, more than 20 CEOs of large public companies announced their resignations. This uptick in C-level departures, which included several “involuntary retirements,” has compensation committees rethinking their approaches to officer-level severance pay. CBM recently…

Economic Value Added—New Governance Considerations

Starting this proxy season, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) will be disclosing in U.S. and Canadian company proxy reports Economic Value Added (EVA) metrics. These metrics will be shown for informational purposes only. However, we believe it is likely that ISS will incorporate EVA metrics into its CEO pay-for-performance analysis within the next two proxy seasons, subject to investor feedback.

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ISS’s introduction of EVA metrics is likely to foster discussion among compensation committees about the nature, merit and implication of these metrics. EVA may also be of interest among institutional investors as an additional lens to assess pay and performance…

How to Structure a Fair Executive Severance Agreement

From Boardroom Resources...Ryan Harvey frames the importance of a well-structured severance arrangement and outlines several best practices for today’s boards and compensation committees.

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Few things cause shareholder or media outrage like a poorly structured executive severance agreement. When a CEO is terminated for poor performance and walks away with tens of millions in severance payments, it’s understandably a hard pill for company stakeholders…

Compensation Committee Issues in 2019: From Discretion to Down Cycles

From Boardroom Resources...In this episode, Partner Annette Leckie discusses the impact of the latest tax reform on executive incentives.

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When the latest tax reform was introduced, companies immediately began calculating what it meant for their business. Compensation committees and their outside consultants went through a similar process to identify new rules that may affect how they structure executive compensation…

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…

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…