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CEO Pay Trends 2016: Aligning Pay and Performance to Create Shareholder Value


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Equilar’s CEO Pay Trends 2016 examines CEO pay at S&P 500 companies—defined as reported compensation in the summary compensation tables (SCT) within annual SEC proxy filings (DEF14A)—over the last five fiscal years, visualizing the shift in the way the largest public companies deliver compensation to their chief executive officers. Investors and proxy advisors have always expected a strong connection between a company’s performance and the CEO’s pay, and the data shows a clear link to these intensified calls for public companies to link pay for performance in the past five years.

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Key Takeaways:

  • The median reported total compensation for CEOs of S&P 500 companies was $10.4 million in 2015, compared to $8.9 million in 2011. Median reported total compensation was higher than the previous year in each annual period of the study.

  • Reported base salary and awarded stock grants saw an increase in median value in each of the past five years, while annual cash bonus payouts and options grants saw lower values at the median year over year across the study.

  • More than 80% of S&P 500 companies granted performance-based equity to their CEOs in fiscal 2015, compared to 62.5% in 2011. The number of companies offering time-based options decreased in prevalence during that time from 68.9% to 54.2%.