Trends in executive compensation wmacca may 18 2010
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TRENDS IN EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION WMACCA May 18, 2010. Catherine M. Marriott, Williams Mullen Christopher McGee, Mercer. Trends in Executive Compensation. Executive pay design is driven by a number of factors: employer goals and priorities legal and regulatory requirements

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Catherine M. Marriott, Williams Mullen

Christopher McGee, Mercer

Trends in Executive Compensation

  • Executive pay design is driven by a number of factors:

    • employer goals and priorities

    • legal and regulatory requirements

    • best practices, perception within the market, institutional investors (RiskMetrics)

  • This presentation will examine the conceptual framework for executive pay and incentives, recent regulation of these arrangements, and the latest trends in executive compensation.

Compensation Strategy

  • Corporate philosophy is the starting point

    • Attract, motivate, retain top talent

      • Salary (employment contracts)

      • Bonus and incentives

      • Golden parachutes

      • SERPs

    • Align interest of executive with shareholders

      • Equity compensation

      • Share ownership guidelines/requirements

    • Align interest of executive with stakeholders

      • New(er) concept

      • Who are the stakeholders?

Compensation Strategy

  • Pay determination

    • External Competition

      • Reference to pay for similar jobs at competing companies

      • SEC disclosure rules require comparison in stock price of peer group companies

      • Benchmarking by consultants

    • Internal Equity

      • Comparison among similar jobs in the same company

      • Internal pay relationships

    • Pay for Performance

      • Achievement of pre-established goals

      • Corporate and/or individual

      • Are guarantees consistent with this concept?

Compensation Strategy

  • Pay delivery - form and proportions of pay over time

    • Base pay or salary

    • Variable pay (bonus or other cash incentive)

    • Equity compensation (stock options, SARS, restricted stock, stock units)

    • Deferred compensation

    • Supplemental retirement plans (SERPs)

    • Severance (golden parachute/change in control payments)

    • Perquisites

Regulatory Environment

  • Executive pay has been in the spotlight for several years, driven largely by negative corporate/financial events.

  • Fallout from the ENRON collapse followed by a depressed stock market in 2008, and government intervention has resulted in even more regulation.

Regulatory Environment

  • Existing Tax Law: 162(m) and 280G

  • New Tax Law: 409A

  • Changes to Securities Disclosure in 2010

  • TARP: clawbacks, prohibition of golden parachutes, say-on-pay

  • Federal Reserve guidance on incentive compensation: risk mitigation

  • Pending legislation

    • TARP concepts may be applied to all public companies

    • Focus remains on risk, corporate governance, disclosure, excessive pay, deductions for stock options

Regulatory Environment: Section 409A

  • 2004: Congress passes the American Jobs Creation Act and includes a new section of the Internal Revenue Code: 409A

    • 409A is implemented post-Enron to deal with perceived abuses in executive deferred compensation

    • It addresses the form and timing of deferred compensation

    • It does not address compensation generally, incentive compensation, severance, or golden parachutes

Regulatory Environment: Section 409A

  • Section 409A must be analyzed in most aspects of executive compensation

    • Can drive bonus and incentive award design

    • Can drive severance pay structure

    • Can drive reimbursement promises

    • Requires advance planning because it makes timing of payout hard to change

Pending Legislation

Pending Legislation

  • Senators Charles Schumer, D-NY, and Maria Cantwell, D-WA, introduced the Shareholder Bill of Rights Act of 2009. If enacted, the bill would require:

    • Shareholder advisory votes on executive pay (say-on-pay) and golden parachutes

    • Proxy access for shareholders to nominate directors

    • Independent board chairs

    • Annual director elections

    • Majority voting for directors

    • Establishment of a board committee of independent directors responsible for evaluating the company’s risk management practices

Pending Legislation

  • Corporate and Financial Institution Compensation Fairness Act

    • Proposed by Barney Frank and passed in the House on July 31, 2009; focus is corporate governance

    • Includes a non-binding shareholder vote on compensation for NEOs (say-on-pay)

    • Requires disclosure on golden parachutes plus a separate advisory vote

    • Requires independence of compensation committee (no consulting or advisory fee; no affiliates)

    • Compensation committee may engage independent compensation consultant, counsel, other advisors

    • Financial institutions would have to disclose incentive-based compensation programs to regulators

Pending Litigation

  • Senate Banking Committee has approved the American Financial Stability Act of 2010 (Dodd). The bill includes provisions on say-on-pay, compensation committee and advisor independence, clawback requirements, and more proxy disclosure.

  • There likely will be intense debate on the bill.

Common Themes in Pending Legislation

  • Say-on-Pay: Separate shareholder vote to approve compensation of NEOs. Nonbinding

  • Golden Parachutes: disclosure and shareholder approval

  • CEO/Chairman: Separate the roles

  • Clawbacks: implementation of procedure

  • Independent Compensation Consultant: compensation committee can retain consultant

  • Risk Assessments: SEC already requires this disclosure

  • Independent Compensation Committee: Most, if not all, compensation committees of public companies meet these standards

  • Disclosure of Employee Hedging: prohibit or disclose financial instruments used to hedge company stock awards

Regulatory Environment: SEC Changes for 2010 Proxy Disclosure

  • SEC Final Rule adopted December 16, 2009, to enhance compensation and corporate governance disclosures

  • SEC Final Rule will require significant additional compensation disclosures

    • Risk Management

    • Summary and Director Compensation Table disclosure

    • Board disclosure re: qualifications

    • Accelerated reporting of voting results

    • Compensation consultant disclosure

Regulatory Environment: SEC Changes for 2010 Proxy Disclosure

Risk Management

  • Companies must address compensation policies and practices for all employees if they create risks that are reasonably likely to have a material adverse effect on the company

    • This should trigger very few disclosures since most companies do not have plans that are reasonably likely to have a materially adverse effect

Regulatory Environment: SEC Changes for 2010 Proxy Disclosure

Risk Management, cont.

  • Companies may consider policies and practices that mitigate or balance incentives in deciding whether compensation-related risks are reasonably likely to have a material adverse effect

  • Disclosure is part of the proxy statement section on Executive Compensation, but not part of the Compensation Discussion & Analysis

    • However, companies may want to disclose in the CD&A their process for evaluating risk and their policies for mitigating risk such as clawbacks, stock holding requirements, etc.

Regulatory Environment: SEC Changes for 2010 Proxy Disclosure

Risk Management, cont.

  • Company does not need to make an affirmative statement that it has determined that risks are not reasonably likely to have material adverse effect

  • Examples of risk may include a business unit that has a compensation structure significantly different than the rest of the company or a business unit that carries a significant portion of the company’s risk profile

  • Given the narrow definition of risk, few companies outside of financial services will have any disclosure requirements

Regulatory Environment: SEC Changes for 2010 Proxy Disclosure

Summary and Director Compensation Table Disclosure

  • Full grant date fair value of stock and option awards included, not amount expensed for fiscal year

    • May result in different executives designated as most highly paid (based on sum of all compensation elements except deferred compensation earnings and changes in pension values)

  • For performance awards, grant date fair value based on probable outcome of performance conditions, not maximum performance

Regulatory Environment: SEC Changes for 2010 Proxy Disclosure

Summary and Director Compensation Table Disclosure, cont.

  • Footnote disclosure required of maximum value assuming highest level of performance

  • Transition: For fiscal years ending on or after December 20, 2009, companies must recompute disclosure for preceding fiscal years presented in SCT: stock awards, option awards and total compensation columns should reflect full grant date fair values

    • Not required to include different NEOs for any preceding fiscal year based on recomputing those years

  • Regulatory Environment: SEC Changes for 2010 Proxy Disclosure

    Board Disclosure

    • Disclosure required annually for each director and each nominee, which includes:

      • Particular experience, qualifications, attributes, or skills that led the board to conclude that the person should serve as a director

      • Directorships at other public companies or registered investment funds held at any time during the past five years

      • Legal proceedings involving directors, nominees, and executive officers extended from five to ten years

    Regulatory Environment: SEC Changes for 2010 Proxy Disclosure

    Board Disclosure

    • Disclose board leadership structure and rationale:

      • Whether and why the company combines or keeps separate the CEO and chairman positions

      • Why the company believes that this structure is most appropriate

      • Whether and why the company has a lead independent director and what specific role the position plays in the leadership of the company

      • Description required pertaining to the board’s role in risk oversight and how it organizes risk management practices (in Corporate Governance section)

    Regulatory Environment: SEC Changes for 2010 Proxy Disclosure

    Accelerated Reporting of Voting Results

    • The results of shareholder votes must be reported on a Form 8-K within four business days after the meeting where the vote took place

    • Rules include preliminary disclosure within four days even where final outcome is uncertain until definitive voting results are known and a second more accurate filing can be made, for example in contested director elections

    • Disclosure required regarding whether and, if so, how nominating committee considers diversity

    Regulatory Environment: SEC Changes for 2010 Proxy Disclosure

    Compensation Consultant Disclosure

    • Fees paid to board compensation consultants and their affiliates (or to management compensation consultants if the board has none) providing executive compensation and additional services must be reported only if the aggregate fees for additional services exceed $120,000 for the fiscal year

    Regulatory Environment

    • The Federal Reserve will work with the SEC to improve the disclosures provided by public banking organizations in ways that promote the safety and soundness of these organizations

      • The Federal Reserve guidelines require disclosure even where no SEC disclosure is required because a company concludes that compensation arrangements are not reasonably likely to have a material adverse effect

    RiskMetrics: 2010 Focus

    • Withhold votes for Directors may occur on a CASE-BY-CASE basis (their emphasis) in areas such as pay and performance, defined by:

      • One- and three-year TSR are in bottom half of peer group and

      • CEO total compensation is not aligned with TSR, considering

        • Five-year period

        • Mix of pay

        • Performance-based incentives (options do not count)

    RiskMetrics: 2010 Focus

    • Withhold votes may also occur if a company’s programs contain any features on the “problematic pay practices” list, such as

      • Multi-year guarantees for salary increases, non-performance based bonuses, and equity compensation

      • Change-in-control payments exceeding 3 times base salary and target bonus

      • Tax reimbursements related to executive perquisites

      • Dividends or dividend equivalents paid on unvested performance shares

      • Repricing of underwater stock options/stock appreciation rights without prior shareholder approval

    RiskMetrics: GRId Methodology

    • RiskMetrics has announced a new tool to assess governance-related risk called Governance Risk Indication (GRId)

      • Absolute basis compared to “best practices”

      • Best practices are aligned with RiskMetrics proxy voting policies

      • Governance risk is measured in 4 categories- audit, board, shareholder rights, compensation

      • Each category is given a score with a concern level (low, medium, and high)

      • Purpose of the scoring system is to encourage disclosure

      • RiskMetrics will not use the GRId ratings to determine proxy voting recommendations

        • Will use corporate governance policies

        • Rating will not guarantee positive vote recommendation or cause a negative vote recommendation

    Implications for 2010: Decision-making in a more stable environment

    Improvement in the stock market

    • S&P 500 has recovered over 150% since its March 2009 low

      • Many 2009 grants already have substantial paper gains

    Companies may get a pass for their 2009 decisions but not for 2010. Shareholders will expect a return to fundamentals.

    Implications for 2010: Decision-making in a more stable environment

    Cautious signs of economic recovery

    • Automakers move through bankruptcy in record time and some TARP recipients have paid back government funds

    • Unemployment is still very high, as jobs and job growth tend to lag economic recovery

    • Economic recovery may mean that some incentive plans ending in 2009 maypayout

    Implications for 2010: Alignment with performance is critical

    Long-term incentives and general use of equity are top-of-mind in 2010

    Pay aligned with results

    Pay mix

    Risk management

    Sustainable results

    Pay practices

    Shareholder engagement

    Outlook for 2010: Base pay for executives

    • Executive Salaries are slowly defrosting

    • A majority of organizations plan to increase salaries for 2010 (65%) or at least to restore reductions made last year (11%). Still, about a quarter of companies won’t be increasing salaries and most of those didn’t provide increases last year either. Increases are expected to be modest (2.8% on average).

    Outlook for 2010: Base pay for executives

    Outlook for 2010: Short-term incentives

    • Examining risk and alignment with results

    • Incentive plan goals have been in the spotlight. Organizations want to set credible goals that will motivate employees, but in many cases the economic outlook remains uncertain. At the same time, shareholders and legislators are demanding that pay be aligned with performance.

    • Target annual incentive levels are remaining constant, however, there are plan design changes underway. Nearly half reported that they have introduced or plan to introduce new performance measures to their annual incentive program.

    Outlook for 2010: Short-term incentives

    Outlook for 2010: Long-term incentives

    • Back to fundamentals

    • Like annual incentive plans, LTI programs are also being examined, although the pace of change has slowed since 2009. A majority of companies expect to deliver the same value of LTI in 2010 as was granted in 2009. A number of companies expect to deliver higher values because of the appreciation in stock prices throughout 2009 and early 2010

      • There is a noticeable trend in using performance to differentiate grant size among individuals

    Outlook for 2010: Long-term incentives

    • There is also an increase in the use of performance shares/units. Companies that use performance shares/units continue to examine the performance metrics

      • 25% of companies are adjusting the current range of performance

      • Some companies are considering the use of shorter measurement periods with a deferred payout

      • Some are converting the more traditional 3-year performance period to a series of 1-year performance periods with payout at the end of a 3-year timeframe

    • For non-executive participants, the top action under consideration is a decrease in program participation.

    Initial Perspectives for 2010

    Catherine (Kate) M. Marriott

    Williams Mullen

    (w) 804-783-6901

    (f) 804-783-6507

    Christopher McGee


    (w) 202-331-2545

    (f) 202-296-0909

    Contact Information

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