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 the Dodd-Frank Act legislation after the 2008 Financial Crisis, the inclusion of shareholder SOP voting was driven by bipartisan Congressional support to “control executive compensation…” at corporations. In 2009, a former SEC chief accountant said, “Executive compensation at this point in time has gotten woefully out of hand… The time to adopt ‘say on pay’ type legislation is certainly past due.” Politicians, regulators, and some institutional shareholders clearly thought that, “The impetus for passage of Dodd-Frank’s say-on-pay requirement in 2011 focused on remedying ‘excessive’ CEO pay.” 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 →
ISS released their U.S. Executive Compensation Policies and U.S. Equity Compensation Plans FAQ documents. These documents are intended to provide greater detail on the updates ISS has implemented to their executive compensation and equity plan policies for annual meetings occurring after February 1, 2017. This alert provides a summary of the key updates as disclosed in the FAQ material. 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 →
In the current environment with Say on Pay votes and intense media scrutiny, it can be difficult to stay centered on the foundation of the executive pay program. While it is important to be aware of external views and commentary on “best practices”, companies must ensure that their executive pay program is built on a rock-solid foundation. In terms of the building blocks of the pay program, most companies apply a “market median” compensation philosophy, but there are a wider range of practices for the peer group, performance metrics and assessing pay-for-performance alignment. Continue reading →
Some companies in the oil and gas, energy, utility, and manufacturing industry sectors have included safety compliance and/or improvement as a performance metric in their incentive compensation plans. Safety as a performance criteria appears frequently in incentive compensation plans for both executives as well as broad-based employee groups. Now, regulators have raised a potential problem with the use of safety as a performance metric. Continue reading →
In today’s environment, with annual Say on Pay (SOP) votes, intense external scrutiny and the need to strongly align pay with performance, it is increasingly important for companies to be confident in their executive pay program. The foundation of a sound executive pay program is built on the company’s business strategy and talent needs, which, collectively, must be achieved in order to create shareholder value. Continue reading →
At a recent Compensation Committee meeting, a director remarked, “As we discuss our CEO’s target compensation for next year, we need to remember that there is an ongoing debate about income inequality.” Income inequality and executive compensation are two of the most controversial issues in modern American economic and political discourse. The forthcoming mandated disclosure of the CEO pay ratio will link these two issues directly in the boardroom.
How much of the increase in inequality has been caused by CEO pay, and is this a failure of corporate governance?
This Viewpoint will provide some insights for directors and others into the answers to these questions in the context of the SEC’s mandated disclosure of the ratio of CEO to median employee pay. Continue reading →
Section 409A was added to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC or “Code”) as part of the American Jobs Creation Act legislated in 2004. Essentially, Section 409A sets forth certain requirements for the effective deferral of compensation under nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements. Much of the impetus for Section 409A was the ability of certain executives to accelerate the payment of their supplemental retirement arrangements and deferred compensation at Enron immediately prior to the company’s demise. Continue reading →
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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.
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.
“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.