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CEO Pay Moves Toward Stock Compensation

December 29, 2008
Related Topics: Finance/Taxes, Compensation Design and Communication, Policies and Procedures, Latest News
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CEO pay moved toward stock compensation and away from cash and stock options, but median cash compensation increased in several industries, according to The Conference Board’s Top Executive Compensation report.

In the financial services category, the average percentage of total compensation delivered in non-equity incentives fell to 21.6 percent from 24.2 percent.

The data for the report were compiled from proxy statement tables filed as of June 2008 for fiscal year 2007.

However, median cash compensation increased in more than two-thirds of the industries studied, according to the report. Insurance industry CEOs saw the largest gain in cash compensation, up by 34.4 percent to a median of $1.2 million. Food and tobacco executives were the top earners of the 22 industries studied, with $6.34 million in median total compensation and $2.7 million in median total cash compensation.

“Whether or not this year’s upward trend in cash compensation continues will bear watching in 2009 when the data reflecting a year of economic downturn are available,” Kevin Hallock, co-author of the report and professor of labor economics and human resources at Cornell University, said in a news release.

The report found that the median CEO at the largest 10 percent of companies gets 99.97 percent of salary in total stock and stock options holdings in the company.

The Conference Board expects median CEO compensation to fall in the report for fiscal 2008 because of the recession.

“Companies must assume their top executives’ compensation will come under greater scrutiny from within and without,” Linda Barrington, research director at The Conference Board, said in the release. "The financial market crisis and U.S. recession have contributed to eroding public trust in business leadership."

Filed by Jennifer Byrd of Pensions & Investments, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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