2015 Articles

How Boards Can Guard Against Lawsuits Alleging Excessive Stock Awards

Shareholder lawsuits alleging that boards have awarded themselves too much equity got a boost this year from the Delaware court, which now says the business judgment rule may not apply. However, there are a number of steps directors can take to help protect themselves against a lawsuit.

The Aon Hewitt Multiple-Point Binomial Model: A More Precise Approach to Option Expensing

Rather than assuming that all employees have homogenous option exercise behaviors, the Aon Hewitt Multiple-Point Binomial Model considers the unique exercise activity of employee groups. This results in greater modeling flexibility and more accurate fair value calculations.

Navigating ISS' 2016 Compensation and Governance Policy Changes

ISS' updated 2016 policies have arrived. The proxy advisory firm made modifications to its equity plan scorecard system, limited the number of outside boards it recommends directors and CEOs can serve on, and implemented new governance recommendations for recently public companies.

Glass Lewis Clarifies Its Approach to One-Off Equity Awards for Executive Officers

In recent years, off-cycle equity grants for executives have received increased scrutiny from proxy advisory firms. Glass Lewis' latest proxy voting policies finally provide issuers with much-needed guidance on how Glass Lewis intends to evaluate such awards going forward. This could have a big impact on upcoming say-on-pay votes.

Glass Lewis Updates Its US Compensation & Governance Policies for the 2016 Proxy Season

On November 13, 2015, Glass Lewis released its 2016 proxy season policy updates for the US market. In this client alert, we summarize key compensation and governance updates, and provide commentary from experts across Aon Hewitt on potential challenges for issuers.

Mind the Gap: Companies Frequently Exceed Merit Increase Budgets for Top Performers

The difference between companies' merit budget and overall higher salary budget is often cash reserved for exceptional raises for top performers. Yet, this figure is often underreported. This article explores the reasons why.

ISS Seeks Lower Limits on Number of Boards on Which Directors and CEOs Can Serve

If implemented, ISS's new limits will have a big impact on CEOs who sit on more than one outside board, and professional directors who serve on four or five boards.

Seeking a New Share Authorization? Don't Ignore the Shifting Governance Environment.

ISS' new method of evaluating employee equity plans, in additional to evolving institutional investor policies, could make passage of your plan more difficult. We analyze the issues around share authorization plans that matter to various constituents.

From Asia to Europe to the US, Expect to Pay an Equity Premium for Technical Talent

Across major global markets, employees in technical positions are more likely to be eligible for and receive long-term incentives compared to their colleagues in non-technical roles. And when it comes to the actual amount value, we also see a clear technical premium exists.

New Options for Share-Based Payment Accounting May be Attractive to Some Issuers

New accounting guidelines from FASB allow companies to opt out of estimating forfeitures of employee stock awards, which can be a particularly attractive option for some smaller, private companies.

Data Digest: How China's Economic Situation Is Impacting Its Technology Workforce

China's economic slowdown is negatively impacting some industries, but we find the technology sector has remained resilient. A growing domestic field of companies has ramped up competition with multinationals — affecting workforce growth, employee turnover and salary increases.

Use These HR Disciplines to be an Essential Part of Sales Force Effectiveness

In the September 2015 issue of WorldatWork's Sales Compensation Focus newsletter, Radford's Scott Barton discusses how HR can be more involved in maximizing sales force effectiveness and productivity through three key areas of talent management.

Private Companies Redesign Their Employee Equity Plans as IPOs Near

Our latest study of shifts in compensation plans before and after technology and life sciences go public reveals interesting insights into pay strategies and reflects perceptions of good governance in the public markets.

Decoding the Meaning of Pre- and Post-IPO Equity Overhang Rates

Equity overhang rates at recently public companies are a clue to the overall health of equity compensation programs. Our five-year study provides valuable insight on how overhang levels shift as companies transition from a private to public company.

Getting a Grip on Sales Compensation Pay Mix

In the July 2015 issue of WorldatWork's Sales Compensation Focus newsletter, Radford's Scott Barton discusses what to consider when setting pay mix for job levels and how the ratio of guaranteed to at-risk pay influences quota achievement and total target compensation.

Rising Market Volatility Doesn't Always Mean Your Equity Plan Costs Have to Go Up

The recent drop in the stock market created by global economic uncertainty can drive up volatility assumptions— resulting in a greater cost to companies' equity plans. We explain alternative methodologies to mitigate this risk that can help offset the impact of market volatility and ultimately reduce the cost to companies.

Getting to Know Your Peers: Who is Alphabet Inc.?

A complete corporate restructuring like Google's creation of a new holding company would normally trigger peer group changes. However, companies that list Google as a peer for their equity performance plans may want to rethink making any changes.

Managing Pay in Volatile Markets: Move Cautiously and Stay the Course

When companies do business overseas sometimes human resources professionals get more than they bargained for. Sudden changes in currency pricing or inflation can wreak havoc on employees' paychecks. But it's important for multi-nationals to keep in mind that the principles of market-based pay continue to apply.

Is Your Global Account Sales Strategy Truly Global?

One of the biggest challenges for large, multi-national companies' sales operations is executing on an effective global account strategy. However, aligning different territories around a common global goal can be challenging, and having the right structure in place is tantamount to executing on your sales strategy.

Making Sense of High Sales Force Turnover

Sales force turnover is on the rise in many key global markets. In the US and UK, voluntary turnover is at a five-year peak. This is forcing forward-thinking HR and sales leaders to use creative preemptive measures to retain top sales talent.

Measuring the Health of Your Equity Program as Your Private Company Matures

All private companies in the technology and life sciences sectors struggle with how much equity to grant employees. As companies prepare for an IPO, stock plans fall under greater scrutiny. We take a look at how well companies are managing their equity programs based on factors such as the age of the company and level of outside investment.

What the SEC's Final CEO Pay Ratio Rules Mean for Companies

The SEC's final CEO pay ratio rule as adopted earlier this month has some key departures from the proposal, including a delayed implementation period and flexibility on calculating median employee pay.

Data Digest: Tech and Life Sciences Sectors Diverge in LTI Design

The inaugural article in our new Data Digest series explores a distinct but little talked about way that technology and life sciences companies are different in their design of long-term incentive plans. Data Digest explores the latest trends in Radford's extensive data from across the world.

Hot Topics Excerpt: Life Sciences Firms Seek Competitive Edge in Equity Awards

While we know life sciences companies deliver a larger mix of equity incentives compared to many other sectors, our recent workforce trends survey revealed they are also more likely to benchmark their long-term incentives above the median compared to all other forms of pay. That's having an impact on actual award value in many of the major global markets.

With More Retirement-Ready Employees, Tech Companies Address Gaps in Plans

The wave of tech companies that went public in the 1990s with an emphasis on employee equity are seeing more and more of their employees reach retirement age. Against that backdrop, companies are facing a tough decision about what to do about unvested shares — and the decision isn't an easy one.

A Comparison of Executive Compensation Practices at Nordic and US Biotech Companies

The biotech industry is experiencing its own renaissance in the Nordic region, but differences in executive compensation practices compared to the US could present recruiting challenges. To attract biotech talent from abroad and comply with increasingly vocal investor activists, Nordic firms may want to consider making key changes to their equity plan design and pay mix.

2015 Say-on-Pay Review for the Technology Sector

In this report, Radford examines five years of say-on-pay voting results for the technology sector compared to the broad Russell 3000. We also review the influence of proxy advisors, industry performance and top governance concerns.

2015 Say-on-Pay Review for the Life Sciences Sector

In this report, Radford examines five years of say-on-pay voting results for the life sciences sector compared to the broad Russell 3000. We also review the influence of proxy advisors, industry performance and top governance concerns.

Radford Methodologies: How to Value and Apply Equity Compensation Market Data

Designing effective equity programs is one of the most important roles for human resources and compensation professionals. But before companies can design an effective equity program they need to gather market data and have a common methodology for valuing that data.

Is Your Employee Equity Plan IPO-Ready?

In preparation for an upcoming IPO, one of the most important considerations for compensation and HR professionals is evaluation their employee equity incentive plan— which is strikingly different for public vs. private companies. In this article, we outline the top five areas of equity plans for employers to consider as they prepare for a public offering.

Risky Business: What to Expect as Treasury Rates Rise

Historically low interest rates won't last forever. Compensation professionals that understand the effects that the inevitable increase in risk-free rates will have on equity compensation valuations will be ahead of the game.

Managing Talent in the Age of Internet of Things (IoT)

Biotech companies have higher salary increases compared to the general life sciences sector and have increased their target cash positioning. This has allowed companies to keep voluntary turnover at bay and attract new talent to fuel their rapid growth. Our article examines the latest data for the red hot biotech industry.

In a Competitive Market, Biotech Firms Proving Effective in Retaining Employees

Biotech companies have higher salary increases compared to the general life sciences sector and have increased their target cash positioning. This has allowed companies to keep voluntary turnover at bay and attract new talent to fuel their rapid growth. Our article examines the latest data for the red hot biotech industry.

Hot Topics Excerpt: Technology Firms Aim Higher for Engineers than Executives

How fierce is the competition for technical talent? Well, our latest research shows that technology companies now set the bar higher for engineers than executives, targeting pay levels above the market 50th percentile for technical roles more often than for executive officers. Read our latest report to learn more.

The SEC Proposes Pay-versus-Performance Disclosure Rules. Now What?

The SEC has issued a long-awaited rules proposal on how companies should disclose the alignment between executive pay realized in a given year relative to total shareholder return. We expect the proposed rules to have special implications for our clients in the technology and life sciences sectors.

As the Race for Top Talent Intensifies, US Tech Firms Ratchet Up New-Hire Equity Awards

As corporate valuations climb, so too does the value of unvested equity awards. This makes it harder to recruit talent and drives demand for larger and larger new-hire equity grants. In our latest article, we unearth a little known pay metric to highlight the dramatic uplift in new-hire equity award sizes over the past five years.

When is it Time to Get Worried about High Sales Force Turnover?

Our recent article on sales force turnover at software companies turned a few heads and prompted a number of interesting questions from readers. With those inquiries in mind, we decided to dig deeper and explore the potential impact of sales rep turnover on revenue goals, as well as turnover rates across key US regions.

Software Sales Professionals are on the Move as the Technology Sector Booms

Voluntary turnover among sales professionals at technology firms is rising, with the highest rates at software companies. A number of factors are contributing to the increase: an improving job market, demand for cloud-based selling experience, and a growing field of innovative products. HR managers shouldn't feel defenseless, though. Find out what you can do to stem the turnover tide.

Accelerating Sales without Breaking the Bank

Most companies have sales commission accelerators in place. However, few are well-equipped to know if their accelerators are optimized to meet business needs. In this article, we explain how a data-driven approach can be used to design accelerator programs in-tune with both market trends and sales team performance.

As the Life Sciences Sector Soars, It's Time to Examine the Risks and Rewards of Your Annual Incentive Plan

Valuations for life sciences companies continue to soar, boosting stock prices and outside investment. For employees, the good news does not end there— annual incentive payouts are also on the rise. However, as above-target payouts become more prevalent, companies may want to consider raising the bar.

Boards Face Pressure to Ban Accelerated Vesting, but Market Practices Tell a Different Story

The number of shareholder proposals calling for bans on the acceleration of equity after a change-in-control is on the rise. So, too, is shareholder support for these initiatives. Radford's recent survey of severance practices at technology and life sciences companies shows that equity acceleration is still the norm, but policies in this area are slowly evolving.

Switzerland Reminds us of the Importance of Currency Conversions for Global Relative TSR Plans

When the Swiss Bank decided it would no longer tie the Swiss Franc (CHF) to the Euro, the value of the Swiss Franc skyrocketed, immediately impacting equity markets and foreign exchange traders. However, bankers were not the only ones affected by this move. The results of your global relative TSR plan could change as well. To find out why, read our latest expert insight.

Taking Stock of 13th and 14th Month Bonus Requirements in Latin America, Europe, and Asia

Global HR administration is hard work, especially when it comes to navigating the labyrinth of rules and regulations governing 13th and 14th month bonuses in Asia, Europe and Latin America. Fortunately, our colleagues in Aon Hewitt's Legislative Reporting practice have just published a fantastic summary of the global requirements you need to know.

Global Job Leveling at Radford: A Tailor-Made Approach for Companies Driven by Innovation

Our clients in the technology and life sciences sectors share many traits in common: they are innovative, they grow fast, and they need to be flexible. These traits demand a new approach to global job leveling, one that easily scales as companies mature and also evolves as firms add or acquire new types of talent.

ISS Releases Details of Scoring System Under New Equity Plan Scorecard Approach

This year, ISS is adding a number of factors to how it evaluates equity pay plan proposals beyond the cost of plan administration. Technology and life sciences companies, which often rely more heavily on equity for their overall pay mix at all levels of the organization, should be aware of how ISS's new scorecard approach could impact a favorable proxy vote.

Is Your Sales Incentive Plan in Tip-Top Shape? It Might be Time for a Check Up

Business leaders must continuously balance the need to drive profitable growth against the real costs of their sales compensation plan. Yet, few companies have an effective roadmap for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of their plan on an annual basis. Radford's new Sales Incentive Plan Health Check tackles this challenge across a number of critical plan design issues.

As the German Technology Market Heats Up, Global Rewards Benchmarking Becomes Critical

A new digital economy has arrived in Germany, and its impacting every business sectors. Consequently, engineers are in high demand, but a shortage of talent is forcing companies to recruit from outside markets. Big differences in total compensation levels and pay practices across Europe, the United States and Asia mean German companies need to up their global benchmarking game.

Getting Severance Right: An Overview of Current Policies and Practices at US Technology Companies

Radford's 2014 Severance & Change-in-Control Practices Survey provides detailed information on how technology companies treat involuntary termination and change-in-control (CIC) scenarios on an organization-wide basis. At their core, severance programs did not change dramatically since our 2011 survey; however, we still observed several meaningful trends worth noting.

Getting Severance Right: An Overview of Current Policies and Practices at US Life Sciences Companies

Radford's 2014 Severance & Change-in-Control Practices Survey provides detailed information on how technology companies treat involuntary termination and change-in-control (CIC) scenarios on an organization-wide basis. At their core, severance programs did not change dramatically since our 2011 survey; however, we still observed several meaningful trends worth noting.

Managing Compensation Programs in the Face of Russia's Sudden Currency Devaluation

Depressed by Western economic sanctions and a sharp drop in the price of crude oil, Russia's economy and currency have weakened considerably in the past few months. This dramatic change is prompting multi-national companies to consider quick adjustments to pay programs for employees in Russia. We recently surveyed clients to see how they are tackling this issue.

Like "Check Engine" Light, Use Compensation Cost of Sales to Look for Trouble

In the January 2015 issue of WorldatWork's Sales Compensation Focus newsletter, Radford's Scott Barton discusses how key business metrics can be used to determine if your sales incentive plans are properly designed and functioning at maximum efficiency. Measuring the rate of change in sales costs vs. revenue growth is a simple step that can open up a world of insight.

SEC and FASB Disclosure Requirements for Holding Periods and Illiquidity Discounts

The adoption of mandatory post-vest holding requirements is on the rise, yet disclosures relating to illiquidity discounts associated with this governance practice are often lacking. Companies that fail to appropriately address the methods and assumptions used to quantify discounts could soon face more scrutiny.

Mandatory Post-Vest Holding Requirements: A New Approach for Mitigating Your Company’s Equity Compensation Expense

Companies often adopt mandatory post-vest holding requirements to achieve governance benefits, including the creation of a pathway for executives to meet ownership guidelines. However, holding periods, when designed to meet accounting standards, have significant potential to deliver valuation savings.

The Many Governance Benefits of Mandatory Post-Vest Holding Requirements

Although ownership guidelines and holding periods are increasingly common, few companies understand and take advantage of the full breadth of governance benefits associated with holding requirements. From building an ownership culture to enforcing clawbacks, there's more than meets the eye.

Maximize Your Investment in Equity Compensation and be a Good Corporate Citizen at the Same Time

Mandatory post-vest holding requirements are a rare find; they allow companies to maximize their investment in equity compensation while being a good corporate citizen at the same time. From numerous governance benefits to reduced accounting costs, holding periods are worth the investment.