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Early Data for 2013 shows rise in CEO compensation

By now, you’ve heard all about Pay for Performance – executives’ bonuses are not predetermined anymore but instead based on the performance of the company in both the long and short-term. But by and large, shareholders have supported executives and paid them accordingly.

Here are some key statistics that show data in 2013 compared to 2012 (data from http://www.capartners.com):

  • Shareholder support at 97%, up from 95%
  • Median CEO bonus 100% of target in 2013 compared to 97% in 2012
  • 51% of executives rewarded with more than 100% of target bonus (meaning they exceeded target), compared to 47% in 2012
  • 49% of bonuses related to long-term incentives, up from 45%
  • 50% of companies modified the peer group
  • So what does the data tell us? It seems pretty evident that executive pay is rising, predominantly through meeting targets. Executive pay is also increasingly tied to the long-term success of the company, with executives rewarded for meeting long-term goals (usually over a three year period).

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    Proposed legislation would raise base pay for executives

    New legislation has been proposed that would increase the minimum salary basis level that employers need to pay as part of the requirements to avoid the overtime rules. Workers classified as executive, administrative or professional employees would have their weekly minimum pay more than doubled, and the floor for highly-compensated employees will increase too, by 25%.

    Currently, executive, administrative or professional employees must earn a minimum of $455 per week (base salary) to be excluded from overtime rules. However, in the next three years the new proposal would incrementally increase that floor to a minimum of $1,090 per week, or else overtime must be paid.

    Similarly, the floor for highly-compensated employees would be raised to $125,000 per year. This is an increase from $100,000 and would be periodically indexed for inflation.

    If you have any questions about the legislation or any other overtime questions, contact us today.

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    ISS Changes Methodology for Calculating Relative Degree of Alignment

      ISS (International Shareholder Services Inc.) has released its 2014 U.S. Policy updates, with a modification to the executive compensation section, changing the methodology of how they calculate the Relative Degree of Alignment (RDA). The RDA evaluates executive pay and performance relative to peers. Under the revised methodology, ISS will calculate the difference between the company’s total shareholder return rank and the CEO’s total pay rank within a peer group, as measured over a three-year period.

      Previously, ISS would take the difference between the company’s total shareholder return rank and the CEO’s total pay rank within a peer group, as measured over one-year and three-year periods (weighted 40% / 60%). The new methodology serves to simplify and smooth the process. This shouldn’t make too much of a difference for executives, but does continue the overall trend of executives being rewarded for long-term successes over short-term successes.

      The 2014 Updates were agreed on November 21, 2013 and have been effective for shareholder meetings on or after February 1, 2014.

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    Taking the Long-Term Approach: How and Why More Companies Are Linking Long-Term Performance to Compensation

    With large companies facing ever-increasing scrutiny over how much they pay executives, but with overall executive pay still rising in the Say-on-Pay era, many companies are looking to the long-term.

    But why are they doing so? Clearly, long-term evaluation can be beneficial for both employer and employee: the employer is locking up precious talent, while ensuring that what they pay their executives is commensurate to the company’s overall success; the employee is still handsomely rewarded for his position, and with the added desire of wanting to see the company succeed.

    There are, however, some important things to consider if you are negotiating a long-term performance compensation package:

    1) Make sure the company shares the same goals as you.

    2) Is the compensation package fair and achievable? Are some of the targets unattainable?

    3) Consider the business model and life cycle and determine what the exact length of the “long-term” package should be.

    4) Can you envisage yourself still working at the company in 5, 10 or even 15 years?

    So, while a long-term deal can be beneficial for both parties, make sure you understand the terms and ramifications when agreeing a long-term compensation package. If you have any questions, you can contact us at Gordon Law Group.

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    Non-Competition and Non-Disclosure Agreements

    Many employers require their employees to sign non-compete and non-disclosure agreements as a condition of employment. There are a number of reasons for such agreements, although the primary stated reason is that companies want to protect their investment in you and their own information.

    The crucial question for any employees is: if I sign a non-compete and non-disclosure agreement, can I work in the same field for a different company after my employment ends? No employee wants to limit their future career options.

    A non-disclosure agreement protects trade secrets, intellectual property or any other special information obtained by an executive during his employment. While these agreements are almost always required, you should be careful not to sign one that would limit you from using publicly available information or knowledge you developed on your own. Even though the agreements may not be enforceable, it may take years to litigate the coverage.

    A non-compete agreement may be enforceable if it is:

    Necessary to protect an employer’s legitimate business interest;
    Reasonably limited in geographic scope and duration;
    Reasonably limited to the scope of occupation; and
    Supported by consideration.

    But, even in those situations, there may still be a way out.

    Contact us if you have any questions or check out our FAQs page on executive compensation.

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    Dodd-Frank: A Rundown

    The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has been in place for nearly three years. We’ve provided a quick refresher of exactly how the Act works and how it affects you, the executive. 

    The most relevant part of the act for executives is the “Say on Pay” proposal. Subtitle E focuses on executives and states that, at least once every three years, a public corporation is required to submit to shareholder vote the approval of executive compensation. Shareholders may also disapprove golden parachute payments.

    “Say on Pay” is a term used to describe the process where a firm’s shareholders have the right to vote on compensation afforded to executives. It is intended to limit compensation by not awarding executives too much money. The shareholders review the CEO, CFO, and the next three highest paid executives.

    How does this affect me?

    Executive bonuses will be subjected to periodical reviews by the shareholders. Potentially they can block executive compensation if they deem it to be excessive or if the company is underpeforming, although the shareholder vote is non-binding. However, for the most part, executive compensation has been approved by shareholders and Dodd-Frank has proved to be a fair system for rewarding the work of executives.

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    Shares Explained

    We are now firmly entrenched in the Say on Pay era and this means more varied forms of compensation than ever before. Companies will frequently offer their executives a variety of stock options – whether it’s a form of wages, give the executive a vested interest in the company or to reward management for meeting certain targets.

    The type of shares issued becomes more varied and convoluted each year. An executive will have to not only understand the type of share or shares that they are receiving, but the conditions that come with these shares. From acceleration provisions to exercise dates and from strike prices to the benefits, there is a great deal to look out for and understand.

    Here is a quick rundown of the 6 most common types of equity:

    1) Incentive stock options (ISOs) can only be granted to employees and is the only equity option that offers favorable tax treatment. Usually, an employee is given the option to purchase stock at a predetermined price. This is the most common form of equity offered to employees.

    2) Non-qualified stock options (NQSOs) are similar to ISOs but without favorable tax deductions. This means the employee is taxed on any profit made when purchasing the stock at its cheaper, predetermined price.

    3) Stock Settled Appreciation Rights (SSARs) grants an employee payment in stock. The payment is equal to the amount which the value of stock has increased since the employer-employee agreement was made.

    4) Phantom Stock is similar to SSARs, but the employee is paid in cash instead of stock. The payment is still equal to the amount which the value of the stock has increased, but the employee receives no actual stock.

    5) Restricted Stock Grants are a fixed amount of shares that are given to the employee that are subject to a right of forfeiture or repurchase by the company.

    6) Restricted Stock Units (RSUs) is when an employee is granted stock to be paid at a specified date in the future. These are also subject to forfeiture or repurchase by the company. RSUs are usually used by newer companies that are looking to grow.

    Once again, it is necessary to stress the importance of understanding different types of stock. Too often, when an executive leaves a company for whatever reason, there is a messy and complicated severance package that is usually complicated by the shares owned by the executive. Clearly, it is beneficial to avoid a messy process!

    If you have any questions about equity compensation, feel free to contact us today. Also, check out our FAQs by clicking on the link at the top of the page or at Gordon Law Group.

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