Pay-for-performance hits US execs salaries: Study
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Last Updated: Friday, November 13, 2009, 18:45
Washington: Getting shares as part of salary package has become a bane for American executives who suffered huge losses in the financial market meltdown last year, says a survey.

According to global consulting firm Watson Wyatt, the executives in large US companies suffered financial setback and witnessed a 42 per cent decline in their stock ownership and bonus payouts last year, as per the 'pay-for-performance' model.

In aggregate terms, the CEOs analysed in the study lost a combined USD 53.7 billion-– that comes roughly to USD 55 million for the average CEO-– in 2008, the study said.

"When the economy prospers and the stock market does well, executives reap the rewards. But when markets decline, executives also suffer financial setbacks," Watson Wyatt Executive Compensation Consulting Global Director Ira Kay said commenting on the findings.

Executives, as part of the pay-for-performace model, are given stock ownerships and bonus payouts in tune with the company performance.

"The total value of CEO stock ownership and outstanding equity awards and bonus payouts for CEOs decreased by 42 per cent in 2008, which is larger than the 34 per cent decline experienced by a typical shareholder at those companies," the survey further pointed out.

Watson Wyatt's survey is based on public data from 982 companies in S&P 1,500.

The survey also noted that compensation committees continue to structure CEO pay programs so that firms with better performance deliver higher pay to their CEOs than low- performing companies.

Stock markets' recovery this year, however, has mitigated some of the overall loss incurred in 2008, it pointed out.

"As companies move beyond the financial crisis and start preparing in earnest for economic recovery, they will be challenged to develop incentive programs that continue to attract and retain top talent and motivate and reward superior performance, yet at the same time respond to external pressures," Watson Wyatt Senior Executive compensation consultant Steve Van Putten.

Besides, the survey also found that the value of broad- based employee stock option grants declined by 17 per cent in 2008.

"The realised gains from employee stock option exercises declined by an average 55 per cent last year, from USD 54 million per company to USD 24 million," Watson Wyatt said.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, November 13, 2009, 18:45

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