Finally, an article that looks at CEO pay from a more aggregated perspective, rather than out-of-context or anecdotal “can you believe how much this guy made?” stories. Particulars are as follows:
The median salaries and bonuses for the chief executives of 200 big U.S. companies fell 8.5% to $2.24 million
Including the value of stock, stock options and other long-term incentives, total direct compensation for the CEOs dropped 3.4% to a median of $7.56 million
Everyone reports “cash” versus “equity” compensation as a relevant distinction because that’s the distinction mandated in disclosures, because that’s how they evolved historically. I think it distorts the discussion to call equity “long-term incentives.” Incentives implies motivation to do something, other than pray for the value to go up. No managers, up to the CEO, are meaningfully ‘incented’ by equity in the sense of drawing a line between their behaviors and the results.
To me, the more relevant distinction is fixed versus variable. When the company chooses to give you $2 million each year in restricted stock, no matter how the company has performed, that looks like fixed compensation, every bit as much as salary. If the amount of stock granted is based on performance, it looks like a bonus, except paid in equity rather than cash.
While median CEO salaries grew 4.5%, bonuses fell 10.9% as profits decreased by a median 5.8%
So bonuses (or at least cash bonuses) dropped twice as fast as profits–a pretty good pay-for-performance sensitivity.
CEO compensation decreased more sharply at banks and brokerages, long the source of some of the biggest paychecks. Median annual cash compensation for CEOs in the financial industry fell 43%, to $976,000. Total direct compensation fell 14.2%, to a median $7.6 million.