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Compensation Philosophy & Programs

Browse the latest articles on pay philosophy, including articles on pay prominance, strategic valuation of pay, talent retention methods, framing the compensation discussion and analysis (CD&A) portion of the proxy statement, and non-direct compensation matters such as SERPs and employee benefits.

Notes From the Field: Risk May Not Be Inherent in Pay Designs

One would be hard-pressed not to be slack-jawed over the revelation of fraud at Volkswagen in late 2015. The audacious scale of the perpetration—11 million cars, over 8 years, in 36 countries—was hard to fathom. Bad acting on both this and a lesser scale drives observers of corporate governance to reflexively ask, “What’s going on at the top?” Read more

How Incentives for Long-Term Management Backfire

To hear long-term investors tell it, company executives have embraced short-term thinking like never before. Two obvious pieces of evidence: The use of earnings for share buybacks that cost more than they’re worth, and dividend increases that divert cash from long-term investment. Read more

Seeing Beyond the IPO

Leading up to an IPO, compensation planning and strategy often take a backseat to the immediate business demands and actions that are required to take the company public. With so many new requirements, the focus of the Compensation Committee is often on the work needed to prepare for the IPO event, and not on the tomorrows that follow. Read more

Establishing an Effective Equity Strategy as a Newly Public Company

Following an IPO, the outlook for employee equity programs changes overnight. The company instantly goes from a handful of investors to a diverse shareholder base. Governance requirements kick in. Regulators require significant disclosure of compensation and equity practices. Employee expectations shift. And as the company evolves, what worked at one stage doesn’t necessarily work at the next. Read more

2016 Executive Stock Ownership Guidelines

Public companies are beholden to align long-term interests of executive officers with those of their shareholders, and this balance often manifests in how executives are paid in relation to company performance. Many companies address this through use of equity packages, but because executives can still sell or hedge these shares, their incentives to make long-term decisions for the company are not always clear. To avoid this, many companies implement stock ownership guidelines, requiring executives to own a certain amount of equity in the company. Read more

A Compelling Alternative to Stock Options

Today, compensation committees seem to have fewer tools in their arsenal to directly incentivize a company’s stock price growth. Increasingly since 2007, stock options have been replaced by various performance-based vehicles. As a result, long-term incentive plans (LTIPs) may be paying for achievement of operational or financial performance goals while shareholders fail to benefit from a similar growth in share value. Read more

Say on Golden Parachute: A Look at Say on Pay’s Lesser-Known Cousin

Golden parachutes became common in the hostile takeover years of the 1980s, when executives worried about losing their jobs to corporate raiders. The golden parachutes provided executives with lump sum payments, immediate vesting of equity awards and continued participation in benefits following a change in control. Media reports and debacles about failed financial service companies in the 2000s raised public ire over these arrangements. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 advanced a mandate for shareholders to review these parachute arrangements prior to completion of a corporate merger or change in control. The mandate became known as say on golden parachutes and complemented say on pay, a mandate for routine shareholder pay program reviews. Both mandates are advisory and nonbinding. Read more