WSJ CFO Journal – Equity Awards Propel Director Compensation Increase: Study
By John Kester
June 13, 2014
Corporate directors got a pay bump last year as the equity portion of their compensation grew.
That’s according to a study from Steven Hall & Partners LLC, an executive compensation consulting firm, which looked at total compensation of directors based on two years of proxies among this year’s 100 earliest proxy filing companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenue.
Median director pay climbed 5% since the previous year, to $225,235, on the back of a nearly 6% boost in the median equity award, while the cash retainer remained unchanged compared to a year earlier.
Economic improvement is helping to fuel an increase in the value of equity awards, said Michael Sherry, a consultant at the firm. Equity awards accounted for more than half of director compensation last year; the median among the large early proxy filers was $120,000.
Most companies award full value shares to directors, instead of stock options, and the number is dwindling. Just 16% of the businesses researched by Steven Hall & Partners gave out options last year, the study found, compared with 21% the year before.
But despite growth in compensation for directors, their pay pales in comparison to what CEO’s get, said Mr. Sherry. Companies will pay an entire board of directors a fraction of what they pay their lone CEO, he said, which makes them a great bang for the buck.
“Directors,” Mr. Sherry said, “are one of the best buys in corporate America.”