Insights

Oil & Gas Crisis Response: 2020 Compensation Responses will lead to Sustained Changes

2020’s significant downturn already shows some marked differences from the 2008-2009 and 2015-2016 downturns (the last instances where oil prices fell more than 50% over a short time period).

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Mere weeks after boards approved compensation outcomes from 2019 performance, there’s a temptation to revisit or change those outcomes under the lens of 2020 performance. We believe that in the large majority of cases, those 2019 outcomes should stand on…

The $1 Salary: Lessons Learned

Periodically we receive requests from our clients to profile advantages, challenges, and best practices associated with administering pay programs that combine a very modest base salary with large equity grants.

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Periodically we receive requests from our clients to profile advantages, challenges, and best practices associated with administering pay programs that combine a very modest base salary with large equity grants. The $1 Salary Plan is the most extreme version of…

How Should Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Performance be Reflected in Executive Compensation?

Companies are responding to increasing pressure from shareholders, proxy advisors, employees, and even local and state governments to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues as part of business strategy and performance.

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Many of the public company boards and corporate executives (very notably, 181 CEOs signing the Business Roundtable Statement avowing Stakeholder primacy1) that are eager to demonstrate this responsiveness cite compensation as an existing, meaningful and highly visible tool that is…

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…

Executive Pay Outreach

From the Volume 2 2019 issue of CEO Magazine...The continued scrutiny of executive compensation coupled with the rise of shareholder activism has prompted many US companies to consider specific strategies around shareholder communications. In response, Bob Romanchek and Tom Ramagnano, partners at Meridian Compensation Partners, provide effective solutions and independent advice for executive compensation and corporate governance.

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Historically, a company’s communication with investors has been centred around the quarterly tion of financial business results and forward-looking guidance, along with year- end results. However, developments over the past several years have led companies to engage with major institutional…

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…

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…

Use Compensation to Advance ESG Initiatives

From the July/August 2019 issue of the NACD Directorship magazine.

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Directors should take a close look at how their companies can use compensation to advance an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy. A key to ESG oversight is the board’s examination of how compensation reflects and advances the company’s commitment…

Pay for Performance

From Volume 1 Chief Executive Officer Magazine...Partner Andrew McElheran and Lead Consultant Andrew Stancel explain what pay for performance should mean to corporate boards and management teams.

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Over the past ten years or so – since the widespread adoption of shareholder ‘say on pay’ votes on executive compensation at public companies in the US and elsewhere – arguably no single idea has animated the analysis and design…

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…

IPOs and Executive Pay

Reprinted from Ethical Boardroom Autumn 2018 Issue

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As the equity markets have recovered and continued to grow since the financial crisis, many private companies are considering an initial public offering (IPO) of their stock as a way to raise capital and create liquidity for their existing investors…

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.…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…