Pay Governance LLC is an independent firm that serves as a trusted advisor on executive compensation matters.
Our work helps to ensure that our clients' executive rewards programs are strongly aligned with performance and
supportive of appropriate corporate governance practices.
In 2004, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Division of Investment Management issued letters to two proxy advisory firms, Egan-Jones Proxy Services and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), that assured mutual fund managers they could rely on the vote recommendations of the two firms. On September 13, 2018, the SEC Investment Management staff decided to rescind the two letters. Continue reading →
Section 162(m) was added to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) in 1994 in what was seen as a reaction to escalating executive pay. Commonly referred to as the “$1 million pay cap,” Section 162(m) denied subject companies the corporate tax deduction for compensation paid to the CEO (referred to as the Principal Executive Officer or PEO) and other proxy-named executive officers (NEOs) that exceeded the $1 million statutory limitation. Exceptions to the amount of covered compensation pursuant to Section 162(m) were permitted if such compensation was deemed “performance-based” under shareholder-approved plans. Continue reading →
Incentive plans lie at the heart of the executive pay program, driving and rewarding business strategy execution. This approach has brought great economic success to the clear majority of companies. The typical annual incentive plan and long-term incentive (LTI) mix of multiple award types can capture most regular core performance metrics. A more contemporary design approach may provide significant focus and urgency regarding a company’s strategic transformation, shifting business strategy, or competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent. Continue reading →
Last year, two articles in the Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business Review criticized the overall CEO pay model at U.S. companies. The authors of both articles, Robert Pozen and S. P. Kothari, link their criticisms to shortfalls in executive compensation governance (e.g., poor disclosure, misleading metrics, and selecting inappropriate peer groups) that have been allowed and/or encouraged by Board Compensation Committees. In this article, we address these critiques. Continue reading →
Any changes to long-standing executive pay rules-regardless of whether they concern taxes, accounting, or regulations-raise questions and uncertainty about whether they will lead to wholesale changes in how executive pay is delivered. Continue reading →
Talent retention is one of the executive pay program’s most important objectives. In order to minimize situations when retention is an issue with the pay program-rather than one of its characteristics-it is important to ensure the core elements are well designed and operating effectively. A strong pay program foundation includes target pay opportunities at market-competitive levels, incentive plans understood by participants, and payouts commensurate with performance. Continue reading →
On November 2nd, the House Ways and Means Committee introduced its tax reform bill, referred to as the ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.’ Our initial review of the bill identified a few provisions which could have significant implications for organizations’ compensation and incentive programs. Continue reading →
CEO pay continues to be a widely debated topic in the media, within the government, and in the boardroom among investors and proxy advisors. As the U.S. was in the heart of the financial crisis in 2008 – 2009, CEO total direct compensation (TDC = base salary + actual bonus paid + value of long-term incentives) dropped for two consecutive years. As the U.S. stock market sharply rebounded and the economy started to slowly grow again, CEO pay also rebounded. Large pay increases occurred in 2010, primarily in the form of larger long-term incentive (LTI) grants. Since then, year-over-year increases have been fairly moderate – in the 2% to 6% range for the period 2011-2015. Continue reading →
Ensuring alignment between pay and performance is challenging enough when a business is performing well. But what about during times of an industry or economic downturn, waning company performance, a shift in strategic business focus, or a period of investment when performance expectations are not as high as in recent years? Today, institutional investors and proxy advisors are hyper-focused on pay-for-performance alignment and, by extension, the rigor of performance goals. Any indication of declining incentive goals year-over-year can bring heightened scrutiny, negative commentary, and can increase the likelihood of an “against” Say-on-Pay (SOP) vote recommendation from proxy advisors. What alternatives exist for a company facing the prospect of performance expected to be lower than the prior year? What should be considered in setting incentive plan goals and what can be expected from shareholder watchdogs who closely examine performance goals and alignment with shareholders? Continue reading →
Pay Governance Gives Back
Very happy and rewarding day for the Pittsburgh crew. Today the Pay Governance Pittsburgh office contributed 12 frozen Turkeys to the Washington County City Mission in support to its drive to feed local families in need. This follows the team’s volunteering of time to serve meals to the Mission’s residents, contributing extra firm computers to the Mission’s Education and Training Center, and working to enhance this non-profit’s governance structure on a pro-bono basis.
2017 Leading Minds of Compensation, East featuring Diane Lerner, Managing Partner at Pay Governance
A new Equilar report featuring commentary from Pay Governance and Donnelley Financial Solutions analyzes the compensation discussion and analysis (CD&A) section of S&P 100 proxy statements over the last five years. With the average CD&A reaching nearly 10,000 words, the report revealed key strategies in how companies design and communicate pay practices by using alternative pay graphs, checklists and other visualizations that help draw investors to the most important information.
To be redirected to Equilar and download a copy of this important report, click here.
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October 4, 2016
Pay Governance Adds New West Coast Partner
Matt Quarles has joined the firm as a Partner. In this role, Quarles is responsible for working with clients across industries on a wide range of executive compensation issues. He will be based in Los Angeles and has nearly 20 years experience in the executive compensation consulting industry.
Pay Energy®, a new proprietary assessment tool developed by Pay Governance
Pay Energy®, a new proprietary assessment tool developed by Pay Governance LLC, helps companies consider the “drive, discipline and speed” inherent in current programs and in alternative designs that may be evaluated.
“The fundamental philosophy of executive compensation is to ‘attract, retain and motivate’ a talented management team. So it’s concerning when you hear incentive awards are just put in desk drawers until plans mature,” said Pay Governance managing partner John England.